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Fields & Yields: Weighing up the 2024 festival season

In the last month, a raft of festivals have celebrated banner editions – from “the best Glastonbury yet” to yet another sold-out edition of Roskilde. But while the good times continue to roll for some event organisers, elsewhere a perfect storm shows signs of being upgraded to a potentially catastrophic hurricane as the cost-of-living crisis, escalating artist fees, increased production costs, competition from other tours and events, and, perhaps, a touch of fan apathy takes a toll on festivals – large and small – around the world.

April’s Coachella – for so long the darling of the North American landscape – experienced its slowest sales in decades, with reports estimating that up to 20% of the total inventory remained unsold. And that purchasing pattern appears to be one of the trends of 2024, with numerous festival chiefs reporting sleepless nights as they await activity from last-minute ticket-buyers. But for many, that nervous wait becomes too much to bear.

Historically one of the strongest festival markets in the world, the UK is experiencing an unprecedented period of flux, with more than 50 festivals already postponed, cancelled, or shut down in 2024, according to the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

Somebody saying, ‘I’m going to go, but I haven’t bought a ticket yet’ is no good to a festival organiser who’s got to pay a bill for a stage upfront

That growing crisis includes Towersey Festival, which having been launched in 1965 was the UK’s longest-running independent. Amid “increasing financial and economic challenges since the pandemic,” Towersey revealed that its upcoming August edition will be its last.

It joins a list from this year’s UK calendar that already includes NASS, Challenge, El Dorado, Pennfest, Connect Music, 110 Above, Leopollooza, Long Division, Bluedot, and Barn On The Farm. In almost all cases, organisers blame spiralling operational costs.

Responding to the situation, AIF chief exec John Rostron tells IQ that promoters have described the current climate as the most difficult they have ever seen. “It’s an incredibly challenging environment because they’ve got multiple things that have all come together at the same time,” says Rostron. While drilling down to precise reasons might take some months of analysis, there are obvious signs that the cost-of-living crisis is playing a significant role when it comes to the ticket-buying habits of consumers.

“The overall sales pattern is changing,” observes Rostron. “A lot of people might want, or intend, to go to a festival, but cost of living means they won’t buy their tickets as early as they used to. Somebody saying, ‘I’m going to go, but I haven’t bought a ticket yet’ is no good to a festival organiser who’s got to pay a bill for a stage upfront.”

Dilemmas involving younger generations are also adding to the mix, as many festival organisers are noting that alcohol consumption is lower among younger fans, while the allure of camping is waning among that same demographic.

“Most of the festivals in the country – maybe as many as 80% – are not making a penny anymore”

Ever creative, some event organisers are catering to the needs of those health-conscious customers by introducing wellness areas at their festivals, or in the case of Secret Garden Party, launching a dedicated wellness festival, Wild Meadows, which make its week-long debut from 5-11 August at the SGP site in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. The broader issues are not confined to the British Isles.

“In the post-pandemic world of costs, we have a problem with festivals in general,” says FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt. “As a board member of the German Promoters Association, what I hear is that most of the festivals in the country – maybe as many as 80% – are not making a penny anymore.

“At the same time, they’re not showing their weakness because they don’t want to be a lame duck or a damaged brand. But for most of them, they’re not even breaking even, and when I talk to them, they’re waiting for a better tomorrow. But no-one has any idea where that is going to come from, or when.”

Indeed, one of the highest profile casualties is MELT, which announced in May that this year’s 11-13 July event would be the final edition due to “insurmountable changes in the festival landscape.” The 20,000-cap festival had been running since 1997.

With closures becoming an unwelcome trend, Thanscheidt says FKP Scorpio is nevertheless bucking the trend with the majority of its festival portfolio, while admitting that keeping festival brands financially viable is “very difficult.”

“Selling tickets to the very enthusiastic people who just had a great time at your festival is very important”

“In Germany, Southside is sold out, Hurricane is super close to sold out, M’era Luna and Deichbrand are doing very well,” he reports. ”Highfield is struggling a bit, but we managed to not have the level of problems others have right now.”

Also performing amazingly are Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, which Thanscheidt and his FKP Scorpio team now work on with fellow CTS Eventim-owned promoter, DreamHaus. Indeed, having announced Slipknot as one of next year’s headliners, Ring and Park 2025 sold out 50,000 tickets in the first day of presale following this year’s 6-8 June twin events – the best presale in its history.

Hurricane and Southside also enjoyed strong presales following their 2023 editions thanks to strong campaigns in the immediate aftermath of the festivals.

“Selling tickets to the very enthusiastic people who just had a great time at your festival is very important, but you have to sell the tickets right away, because if you wait a few months, then it’s much tougher to get all these people on board again. But with the enthusiasm and the great experience they had, they’re on fire to go next year again,” notes Thanscheidt.

That was certainly the experience at Wacken Open Air last year. Despite being forced to run the festival at a significantly reduced capacity because of the conditions caused by rain and thunderstorms, all 85,000 tickets for the 2024 edition were snapped up in just four-and-a-half hours in the day after the event – a new record for Wacken.

“The festival scene in Spain is vibrant and bustling with activity this year”

Elsewhere, the growing festival market in Spain is thriving, despite the challenges, according to Mad Cool principals Cindy Castillo and Javier Arnáiz. “The festival scene in Spain is vibrant and bustling with activity this year,” says Arnáiz. “While there have been a few logistical challenges and economic pressures, we’re also seeing a surge of new events and innovative concepts emerging. I would say the overall energy is very positive, with both organisers and attendees eager to have live music experiences.”

Ahead of the year’s 10-13 July festival, he reports, “Ticket sales for Mad Cool 2024 are performing well, on par with our expectations and previous years. We’ve seen robust demand, which reflects the anticipation and excitement surrounding this year’s lineup and the unique experiences we have planned.”

But Arnáiz notes that Spain is not immune from the pressures being experienced around the world by festival organisers.

“Rising costs across the board, coupled with the need to keep ticket prices accessible, have required us to be very strategic in our planning and resource allocation,” he says. “Our team is focused on finding efficiencies wherever possible without compromising the quality of the festival. To manage this, we are optimising our operations to maintain high standards without significantly raising ticket prices. This includes strategic partnerships and sponsorships that help offset costs, ensuring that we can continue to deliver a top-notch experience for our attendees.”

Although the 2024 European festival season is barely a month old, trends such as late ticket purchasing are being reported throughout the continent. However, while acknowledging the cost-of-living crisis, Thanscheidt believes such dilemmas can be market specific.

The Olympic Games (and Paralympics) in particular have impacted the summer calendar in France

“In Germany, the people who have decided they will go to the festival are spending like they always did,” he notes. “But if you go to Scandinavia, it’s different – they usually buy a lot later. So, it really depends on each market, but for Germany, the major part of our business, booking-wise and also selling the tickets, is done before Christmas for the following year. And then in springtime, you do your marketing and other creative activities to get the rest over the line.”

Playing games
While rising costs are crippling events across Europe, the situation has been complicated this year by two major sports gatherings requiring equipment that otherwise would be hired by festival organisers.

“Both the Olympics in Paris and the UEFA European Championships in Germany use a lot of infrastructure, meaning it’s been more difficult than usual to source everything that festivals need,” observes Holger Jan Schmidt, general secretary of Yourope, the European festivals association.

The Olympic Games (and Paralympics) in particular have impacted the summer calendar in France. Lollapalooza Paris will not happen this year after security restrictions rendered the event unfeasible: Lolla’s organisers had been restricted to a reduced capacity of 7,000 people. Live Nation France director Angelo Gopee comments, “We were advised to hold the festival on a single day to keep the Lollapalooza spirit alive in 2024 and not skip a year without a festival.” However, the promoter decided to shelve this year’s edition, with the festival set to return in July 2025.

And it’s not just Paris-based events that are affected, as nationally, many have had to reschedule their dates, such as Musilac in Aix-les-Bains, or even completely cancel their edition, like Montjoux Festival and Magnifique Society in Reims.

“The rise in production costs, audience attendance, and booking are the top concerns among our members”

Schmidt says that Yourope will discuss the season’s successes and failures at their next meeting in October – which coincidentally will be held in Paris – as well as the European Festival summit in Karlsruhe, Germany in November. But he says many of the trials facing him and his peers this year have been anticipated.

“If you look at the European Festival Report (EFR 2023) we published with IQ, when we asked our members about the challenges, they expected to face this year, they identified the rise in production costs, audience attendance, and booking as their top concerns,” says Schmidt.

Earth, wind & fire
One aspect of festival life organisers cannot count on is the weather, and with climate change seemingly setting new all-time records on a month-to-month basis, the 2024 season is proving problematic around the world.

The US festival, Lovers & Friends, was cancelled less than 15 hours before its gates were scheduled to open on 4 May, due to “dangerous weather.” Promoted by Live Nation, the one-day Las Vegas festival had a lineup including Usher, Backstreet Boys, Janet Jackson, and Alicia Keys. However, after advice from the National Weather Service, which warned of “gusts potentially more than 60mph,” the decision was taken to shelve the event.

Not so last minute but equally damaging, the team behind Sacramento’s Sol Blume cancelled the 3-5 May festival two weeks before it was set to take place because of the lasting effects from the torrential rain that drenched California in late February.

The grand finale of last year’s Burning Man had to be postponed twice after rainstorms

Also in May, the inaugural Gazebo Festival in Kentucky lost its second day of programming due to tornado warnings, while Sueños Music Festival in the neighbouring state of Illinois had to delay the start of its second day due to storms, later leading to an evacuation of the festival site.

On the same weekend, across the Atlantic, heavy rain at the Leeds leg of UK festival Slam Dunk forced organisers to warn fans with mobility issues to avoid attending.

Earlier in the year, the final night of Australia’s Pitch Music and Arts Festival was cancelled following an extreme fire danger warning. The Untitled Group-promoted camping event in Moyston, Victoria, was called off in advance of its scheduled 10 March finale.

And proving that not even desert-based gatherings can escape the ravages of climate change, the grand finale of last year’s Burning Man had to be postponed twice after rainstorms turned Nevada’s Black Rock location into a mud bath.

Strength in numbers
With his summer season well underway, Thanscheidt is enjoying a new collaboration with Dreamhouse that involves the Berlin-based business teaming up with Hamburg-based FKP in the Eventim Live network.

“We really need to be realistic on this, and we need to get production costs under control”

“We work together on all different levels. At the moment, the focus is on two areas: booking and production,” reveals Thanscheidt.

On the latter point, he states, “We all know how much the costs went up since the pandemic, but we need to get this under control because the main problem with festivals now is that the ticket prices for the first time are at their limit, but the costs are still going up. It’s a dead-end street if we do not find ways to create sustainable future models for festivals.

“Of course, you can always do better on food-and-beverage sales, merchandise, sponsorship deals, and up-sales like glamping and VIP packages. Those do bring in a lot of money, but it’s not a complete game changer – they’re not going to cover your costs. So, we really need to be realistic on this, and we need to get production costs under control.”

However, Thanscheidt dismisses notions that many festivals will simply die if the various challenges facing the sector are not addressed.

“If you are also a tour promoter, you need to serve your bands with festival slots, so being involved in festivals is crucial,” he says. “I can’t do what other events have done by reducing the number of stages at Hurricane and Southside. In fact, it’s the opposite: ideally, I would need one more stage, to be very honest, to put all the content of the acts we’re putting on tour. Ultimately, our festival platforms are one of the main tool to get new talent assigned to our company for different markets.”

“The time of the great growth of festivals is over. It has become a fight-and-survive market”

Taxing issues
In response to the developing crisis in the UK, the AIF has launched a campaign called Five Percent For Festivals, which encourages fans to lobby politicians for a VAT reduction on tickets from 20% to 5%.

“The CMS inquiry into grassroots music venues made a recommendation to look at the modelling of VAT in [grassroots venues], and the conversation has widened to say that should include festivals,” Rostron says. “I think there will be intervention. My concern is that by the time something does happen, how many [festivals] will have gone?”

Meanwhile, the Dutch industry is following a similar path, as industry professionals there are also campaigning for their government to reconsider plans for 2026 that will see VAT rise from 9% to 21% for concert and festival tickets.

Whatever the outcome of their lobbying, it comes too late for Mañana Mañana, which announced that its tenth edition would be the last because ticket sales were not good enough to make the event profitable. The festival bade farewell following its 13-16 June finale in Achterhoek.

And it appears that the Dutch indie scene is also enduring a tough year, as at least 60 festivals with over 3,000 attendees have been cancelled in 2024, according to event researcher Lex Kruijver of Respons Evenementen, who told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad that only 30 new festivals have been launched this year so far.

“The time of the great growth of festivals is over. It has become a fight-and-survive market,” says Kruijver.

“Stay strong, but especially stay creative, because you have to cope with a world full of problems at the moment”

Silver linings
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news everywhere in the festival world. Swiss new music showcase Radar recently announced that its sixth edition will see it expanding into new locations, while adding an extra day to the programme. The Gadget Entertainment-promoted event will return to Langstrasse Zurich in September, showcasing 25 acts across eight venues – Frame, Gonzo, Zukunft, Bar 3000, Alte Kaserne, Waxy Bar, Plaza, and Longstreet Bar.

On a larger scale, Madrid’s Mad Cool also has an additional day of programming this year, amongst a raft of changes aimed to improve the visitor experience.

“Adding an extra day and decreasing the number of stages has been particularly well-received,” says Arnáiz. “The new site layout has also been designed to enhance the overall experience, making navigation easier and improving accessibility.”

Emphasising the importance of maintaining a dialogue with the fans, Mad Cool colleague Cindy Castillo adds, “We have communicated these changes effectively through a multi-channel approach via our website, social media, and email newsletters. We also use video content. Additionally, our customer service team is always available to answer any questions, ensuring that fans feel informed and excited.”

Weathering the storm
With his remit including the oversight of more than 20 FKP Scorpio-owned festivals, Thanscheidt is urging his peers around Europe to keep the faith.

“Stay strong, but especially stay creative, because you have to cope with a world full of problems at the moment,” he says. “Also, think about your setup. Do you really need everything? Or is it better to cut something out to invest in something else?”

“Although Yourope is the biggest association for music festivals in Europe, it cannot master this challenge alone”

Schmidt highlights the need for more communication and sharing of information among the continent’s festival community, as a gateway to developing a healthier industry. He points to Yourope’s EU-funded Future-Fit Festivals (3F) as a resource for everyone looking for solutions to make the festival season sustainable long-term. The resource features numerous roadmaps, tool-kits, best practises, action plans, and reports.

“3F seeks to address three key questions: What does the responsible festival of the future look like, and how do we achieve that? What makes European festivals resilient to meet the challenges of the future? And how do tomorrow’s festivals ensure that they continue to play a relevant role in popular culture and the lives of millions of young people?” says Schmidt.

“Although Yourope is the biggest association for music festivals in Europe, it cannot master this challenge alone. So, to include the entire industry in the process, we are establishing systematic dialogue structures to encourage exchange between creative industry professionals, audiences, artists, as well as public and private decision makers.”

During the three years of the project, the association has conducted several pan-European surveys to gather information on the sector in general and on the 3F focus topics in particular. “We need as many events as possible to contribute to 3F. The outcome will hopefully provide everyone with information, tools, and structure that will ensure that the festival business will grow and thrive in the decades ahead of us,” says Schmidt.

 


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Euro festival preview: EXIT, Mad Cool, Montreux & more

Continuing our weekly preview of European festivals, IQ gives readers a glimpse of what’s in store this week…

Serbia’s EXIT Festival (10-14 July) kicks off today at Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, under the slogan “Awakening our Superpowers Together”.

Black Eyed Peas, Tom Morello, John Newman, Gucci Mane, Carl Cox, Artbat and Maceo Plex are among the headliners of the 2024 edition.

Meanwhile, the 47th edition of North Sea Jazz (12–14) will take place at Rotterdam Ahoy with 150 acts including Sting, Raye, André 3000, Corinne Bailey Rae, Masego, Sampha, Noname, Jessie Ware and Jamie Cullum.

Festival director Jan Willem Luyken recently spoke to IQ about the secret behind the Dutch festival’s decades-long legacy.

The swansong edition of Germany’s MELT festival will launch tomorrow

From one stalwart festival to the next, the 58th edition of Montreux Jazz Festival is already underway and will run until 20 July.

The Swiss event, which typically draws 250,000 people over 16 days, features Jon Batiste and Henry Moodie and runs until 20 July. More than 30 shows will be livestreamed for free on the festival’s YouTube channel. Read IQ‘s recent interview with organisers Mathieu Jaton here.

Across the continent, Mad Cool (10–13) will return to the Iberdrola Music Venue in Madrid, Spain. Top-billing acts at the festival are Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Måneskin and The Killers.

Mad Cool’s Javier Arnáiz and Cindy Castillo recently spoke with IQ about the various changes they have implemented to improve the customer experience, as well as the event’s evolution during its first decade.

Meanwhile, the swansong edition of Germany’s MELT festival (11–13) will launch tomorrow. The 20,000-capacity event will return to the Ferropolis open-air museum, near Gräfenhainichen, Saxony-Anhalt, where it has been held since 1999.

Queens of the Stone Age were forced to pull out of their headlining slot at Pohoda

Over 120 artists will bid farewell to Goodlive’s longstanding event, including Sampha, James Blake, Sugababes, DJ Koze, Romy, Marlon Hoffstadt, Overmono, James Blake, Obongjayar, Romy and Skepta.

Slovakia’s biggest festival, Pohoda (11-13), returns to Trenčín Airport including James Blake, Skepta, Royal Blood, Arlo Parks, Pendulum, Black Pumas and more.

Yesterday (10 July), it was announced that Queens of the Stone Age were forced to pull out of their headlining slot at the festival due to frontman Josh Homme requiring “emergency surgery”.

And Wireless Finsbury Park (12-14) takes over London’s Finsbury Park this weekend featuring performances by Nicki Minaj, Future, 21 Savage and Doja Cat.

The bill also features special guest Future, plus Ice Spice, Sean Paul, Asake, Gunna, Rema, Tyla, Digga D, Vanessa Bling, Veeze, Ragz Originale, DJ Target and Remi Burgz. Sexyy Red, Fridayy, Skillibeng, Byron Messia, Shallipopi, Strandz, Kenny Allstar, Seani B, Uncle Waffles, Ruger, Teezo Touchdown, Nadia Jae and Snoochie Shy.

Other festivals taking place this weekend include Slottsfjell (NO) 2000 Trees (UK), NOS Alive (PT), Bilbao BBK Live (ES), Cruilla Barcelona (ES) and TRNSMT (UK).

 


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Queens of the Stone Age cancel Euro festival dates

Queens of the Stone Age have been forced to cancel a string of European festival headline dates this month due to frontman Josh Homme requiring “emergency surgery”.

The cancelled performances include Festival Jardin Sonare in France (10 July), Slovakia’s Pohoda Festival (13 July), Germany’s Zitadelle Spandau (July 16), Czechia’s Colours of Ostrava (17 July) and METAstadt in Austria (18 July).

The American rock band have also pulled out of Electric Castle Festival in Romania (20 July) and Athens Rocks in Greece (27 July), as well as two headline shows at SRC Salata in Croatia (23-24 July).

“Every effort was made to push through and play for you, but it is no longer an option to continue”

“QOTSA regret to announce that Josh Homme must return to the United States immediately for emergency surgery,” says a social media post from the group. “Every effort was made to push through and play for you, but it is no longer an option to continue.

“Ticket holders for festivals, please visit the specific festival website for updated information. Ticket holders for headline shows will be contacted directly from the point of purchase with further information.”

The band, who are currently slated to return to action at Sweden’s Way Out West on 8 August, previously cancelled a set at Italy’s AMA Festival, scheduled for 5 July, citing “health concerns”. They also have slots booked for later this summer at Norway’s Oya Festival, Syd for Solen in Denmark, Cabaret Vert Festival in France, Lowlands in the Netherlands, Belgium’s Pukkelpop and Vilar de Mouros Festival in Portugal.

Last week meanwhile, Homme revealed QOTSA were set to become the first act to play in the Paris Catacombs.

 


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Austria’s Electric Love curtailed due to weather

Austrian festival Electric Love was forced to shut down for half a day due to the threat of severe weather.

The 70,000-capacity event in Salzburg was scheduled for 4–6 July but its final day was hampered due to forecasted strong winds, heavy rain, and lightning.

Organisers announced at 10:30 on Saturday (6 July) that the festival grounds were expected to open at 20:00, which meant the day’s programming was slashed in half.

Camping guests were advised to “secure their tents” by 16:00 and “seek shelter in a vehicle” while others were asked to refrain from heading towards the venue until clearance was given.

At 20:00, organisers put out a statement saying: “The predicted storm front barely touched the area, but strong winds were still measured in the infield. Therefore, a structural inspection must be conducted before opening.”

“The predicted storm front barely touched the area”

The festival site reopened at 20:45 with a revised programme that ran until the early hours of the morning and included Mau P, Meduza, ELF24 Relive, John Newman, DJ Snake and Toby Romeo.

At the time of writing, Electric Love, which is owned by CTS Eventim-backed Barracuda Music, has not offered refunds to customers.

Electric Love joins a long list of events that have either been cut short or cancelled due to severe weather.

Gazebo Festival, Sueños Music Festival, Lovers & Friends, Slam Dunk Festival and Sol Blume are among the victims, with the US market being hit the worst.

In the US, adverse weather coverage has “increased significantly” in the last five years, according to Jeff Torda from Higginbotham. Backing this point, a recent Billboard article claimed premiums in North America had tripled in recent years.

The latest edition of ILMC also saw industry leaders discussing ways to cope with the impact of weather on festivals and open-air live music events.

 


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FKP Scorpio enlists third CEO

FKP Scorpio has promoted Freddie de Wall to co-CEO, serving alongside founder and CEO Folkert Koopmans and CEO Stephan Thanscheidt.

De Wall, who was previously COO at the European concert and festival organiser, will be responsible for driving forward the group’s international business among other things.

“I am delighted to be able to open another chapter in my role at FKP Scorpio with this new responsibility,” says de Wall. “We have not only grown strongly as a team in recent years but have also consistently developed business areas in new markets. I am proud that I can continue to drive this development forward and would like to thank Folkert and Stephan for the trust they have placed in me by taking this step.”

Koopmans comments: “I got to know Freddie back in the eighties when he offered me the headliner for a festival I was promoting. Today, he is not only an experienced executive but also a valued colleague in the group. His international management experience and his excellent network will undoubtedly also benefit him as CEO in order to continue to grow our future business.”

“With the three of us, we are ideally positioned to continue to grow strategically and healthily across the entire group”

Thanscheidt adds: “Our continued success requires good leadership. With the three of us, we are ideally positioned to continue to grow strategically and healthily across the entire group.”

De Wall is a former music- and artist manager with many years of experience in international management positions within the music industry.

At the beginning of the 1980s, he began his career as a promoter and tour manager for international artists, spending 20 years in management positions and as a managing director for major record labels.

De Wall has been working for Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio since 2017, during which time he has developed structures for the group’s international business operation. As CEO, he will continue to expand the international strategy and planning for the group.

In addition to the operations and management of the ten FKP Scorpio international offices, his role will include the responsibilities of Digital, IT, Sustainability and Legal, the firm says.

 


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Euro festival preview: Rock Werchter, Open’er & more

With the European festival season in full swing, IQ is previewing what the forthcoming weekend has in store…

Dutch festival Down The Rabbit Hole (5–7 July) will welcome a sold-out crowd for its 2024 edition, after selling all 45,000 tickets in less than 45 minutes of going on sale.

The Mojo-promoted event at De Groene Heuvels near Ewijk will feature performances from the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Michael Kiwanuka, The National, Jungle, Raye, Jessie Ware and Khruangbin.

Meanwhile, hip-hop festival franchise Rolling Loud will debut in Austria (5–7) as the only European edition in 2024.

The Live Nation Germany-promoted event, dubbed Rolling Loud Europe, will take over Racino in Ebreichsdorf, an open-air venue on the outskirts of Vienna.

Nicki Minaj, Playboi Carti and Travis Scott will headline the premiere, with support from acts including Ice Spice, Shirin David and Don Toliver.

In Belgium, Rock Werchter (4–7) is already underway at Festivalpark in Werchter. The Live Nation Belgium-promoted event is headlined by Foo Fighters, Dua Lipa, Lenny Kravitz and Måneskin. Day tickets have sold out for four of the five dates.

Bombay Bicycle Club, Snow Patrol, Yungblud and Sum 41, The Last Dinner Party, Nothing But Thieves, Avril Lavigne and Khruangbin, Michael Kiwanuka, Arlo Parks and Royal Blood will also perform at Belgium’s biggest festival over the coming days.

Hip-hop festival franchise Rolling Loud will debut in Austria this weekend

Dua Lipa and Foo Fighters are also headlining Open’er (3–6) on the north coast of Poland, in Gdynia, alongside Doja Cat.

Addition acts for the Alter Art-promoted event include Hozier, Charli XCX, Don Toliver, Måneskin, Disclosure, Ashnikko, 21 Savage, Ice Spice, Air, Loyle Carner, Michael Kiwanuka, Floating Points, Kim Gordon, Tom Morello, Sampha and Slowdive.

Ruisrock (5–7), the second oldest rock festival in Europe, will once again take over the national park of Ruissalo in Turku, Finland this weekend.

The Chainsmokers, Hardwell, Disclosure, PMMP and Stormzy are top are top billing for the 2024 edition, which will host up to 35,000 people a day.

Elsewhere, electronic music festival Balaton Sound (3–6) is afoot on the beach in Zamárdi, Hungary.

Marshmello, Alison Wonderland, Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens and Timmy Trumpet are among the acts performing at the event, organised by the team behind Sziget in Budapest.

Other festivals taking place this weekend include Electric Love Festival (AU), Lovely Days Festival (AU), Lytham Festival (UK), Les Eurockéennes de Belfort (FR), Awakenings Summer Festival (NL), Love Supreme Jazz Festival (UK) and Comfort Festival (IT).

 


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AEG’s Jim King on ‘most diverse’ BST Hyde Park

AEG’s European festivals CEO Jim King has spoken to IQ about BST Hyde Park’s most “diverse and exciting” lineup yet.

The 11th edition of the London concert series kicked off on 28 June with All Things Orchestral, and includes concerts with Robbie Williams, Shania Twain, Andrea Bocelli, Stevie Nicks, Kylie, Kings of Leon, SZA, Morgan Wallen and Stray Kids.

Notably, Bocelli will be the event’s first classical headliner, while Stray Kids will follow in the footsteps of BLACKPINK who last year became the first-ever Korean band to headline a major UK music festival with their performance at BST.

“I think it’s really important that we’re stretching, musically, where we’ve been previously,” King tells IQ. “We’ve got a really great balance of shows and genres this year. We’ve also got strong female headliners, which we always strive to do. We’re very happy that Kylie, Shania, Stevie Nicks and SZA are on the bill.

“I think SZA is one of the most important contemporary artists around at the moment, certainly of her generation,” he continues. “We were really fortunate to be able to confirm her off the back of a long cycle. And we’re especially excited about Stevie Nicks. We’ve tried several times to book her and it’s never been the right moment so I thought we’d missed the chance.

“I think it’s really important that we’re stretching, musically, where we’ve been previously”

“She’s timeless and has never been more relevant,” says King. “When you look at the data of who buys her tickets, it’s a young audience. She’s got an unbelievably strong connection [with that audience] through the artists she’s inspired like Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey.”

Though this year’s sales don’t quite match up to 2023’s record year, in which 550,000 tickets were sold, King says the diverse bill has paid off.

“We’re still going to have one of the most successful series ever, with 500,000 people coming to the park – which is incredible when you match that up against any event around the world,” he says. “And what we’re seeing is artists outperforming themselves because there’s something magical about artists headlining shows in Hyde Park in the centre of London in the summer.”

BST’s unique setup tends to be a big draw for both artists and fans but King says it’s not easy to source the calibre of acts that meet the event’s criteria.

“This show stands for getting the biggest artists doing special things or a combination of things they’ve never done before,” he says. “We’re trying to provide fans with unique experiences they don’t normally get to see, not just a tour date, so we set the bar pretty high. This is Kylie’s only show [in London], while SZA is just playing here and Glastonbury and then Stevie Nicks rarely plays.”

“There are certainly fewer stadium-level, Hyde Park-level artists who are touring in ’24”

Weighing in on the much-discussed ‘headliner drought,’ King says: “There are certainly fewer stadium-level, Hyde Park-level artists who are touring in ’24 but I can assure you the 2025 marketplace is already busier so it’s just a cycle.”

King hastens to add that London is the “most competitive music market in the world” and that comes with advantages and disadvantages.

“The artists benefit from that because it’s a wonderful market to play and fans to get to enjoy the great diverse range of those artists coming in, so that’s positive,” he says. “But the competition has [downsides] in terms of the supply chain and staffing.

“We’ve lost a lot of really skilled engineers, riggers and staging contractors, as well as casual staff who were working security or cleaning or running bars,” he says. “And it takes a while to get that level of skill back in.

“I always say that if the first member of staff a fan meets when they come to one of our shows can’t respond to a question like ‘Where’s the bar’ or ‘Where’s the toilet’ or “Can I have this drink’ we’ve already lost.”

“We should find a pathway through this challenging problem and protect important revenue sources”

Another, newer challenge, in the festival sector has been artists boycotting events whose sponsors have ties to Israel.

“We always review and fully audit people we work with,” he says. “And we operate in a society of free speech – we respect everyone’s views within that. We’re a facilitator of music events and I think that a neutral position in our role is important to provide a platform for people to create their art and operate their businesses.

“At that same time, this industry doesn’t get much governmental support so it needs to find solutions from within itself. We should be sitting down as an industry and reflecting on how we should find a pathway through this challenging problem and protect important revenue sources.”

BST Hyde Park continues this Thursday (4 July) with a headline performance from Morgan Wallen.

 


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Pearl Jam cancel tour dates due to illness

Pearl Jam has cancelled more European tour dates due to continuing illness within the band.

The American rock band had already cancelled last weekend’s show at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the day before it was due to take place.

They have now also cancelled two dates at Waldbühne (cap. 22,290) in Berlin on 2 and 3 July.

“Despite everyone’s best efforts, the band has yet to make a full recovery,” the band said in a statement shared on social media.

“The impacts of this decision are not lost on us,” they said. “We feel deeply that so many people spend their time, money and emotional energy to get tickets and then to come see the band, and it is heart-wrenching to have to disappoint you.

“We also appreciate the many people whose hard work goes into making these shows happen. Please trust we never take these decisions lightly and try to do everything possible to show up for you all.

“The impacts of this decision are not lost on us”

“We wish a reschedule had been possible for this tour leg and hope to come back soon. Tickets will be refunded at the point of purchase. Thank you for your continued understanding and support. It means the world.”

The band’s next live show is currently scheduled for 6 July in Barcelona. After their remaining dates in Germany and Spain, Pearl Jam then take a short break before launching the US leg of their tour on 26 August.

The American rock band is not alone in being forced to cancel shows of late. Neil Young & Crazy Horse have also cancelled seven Canadian shows and eight US dates, including their set at Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Fest. The same illness has caused prior cancellations of shows in Chicago, Austin, and Dallas in May.

“The Love Earth Tour has been a great experience for us so far,” reads a new statement on Young’s website. “When a couple of us got sick after Detroit’s Pine Knob, we had to stop. We are still not fully recovered, so sadly our great tour will have a big unplanned break… We know many of you made travel plans and we apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks for your understanding and patience.”

 


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Rock in Rio Lisboa attracts 300,000 attendees

Rock in Rio Lisboa closed its 20th-anniversary edition at the weekend with a sold-out crowd of 160,000 over two days.

The Portuguese festival took place across two weekends (15–16 and 22–23 June), attracting 300,000 attendees and selling out three of the four dates.

Headliners for the biennial event included Scorpions, Jonas Brothers, Doja Cat, Macklemore and Ed Sheeran, who previously played at the 2014 edition.

This year’s Rock in Rio Lisboa took place at a new 80,000-cap venue in Parque Tejo Lisboa, featuring a new stage and a daily audiovisual show commemorating the anniversary. A new ‘Route 85’ area, meanwhile, enabled the public to learn more about the history of the event.

“This edition of Rock in Rio Lisbon was truly special,” says Roberta Medina, Rock in Rio Lisboa’s executive VP. “The new venue, at Tejo Lisboa Park, allowed us to offer an even more incredible experience to all of those who visited us, and also contributed to give the event an even bigger dimension and repercussion internationally, firming its position as one of the best festivals in Europe. To see the City of Rock full of joy and energy for four days was so exciting. We thank all those who have participated and who have contributed for the success of this epic event! We are already planning the next one, with the promise to continue to surprise and charm everyone.”

Rock in Rio’s 40th anniversary edition in Brazil is also set for next year from 13-15 & 19-21 September

Camila Cabello, Ne-Yo, Evanescence, Calum Scott, Ivete Sangalo, James and Lukas Graham were also on the bill.

Alongside Rock in Rio Lisbon, festivals have also previously been launched under the banner in Madrid, Spain and Las Vegas, US.

Rock in Rio’s 40th anniversary edition in Brazil, where the festival originated in 1985, is also set for next year from 13-15 & 19-21 September. Travis Scott, 21 Savage, Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Shawn Mendes and Mariah Carey are among the artists set to perform at the 100,000-cap festival.

The previous edition in 2022 welcomed 700,000 fans across seven days and was headlined by Iron Maiden, Post Malone, Justin Bieber, Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Coldplay and Dua Lipa.

The debut edition of Medina’s Rock in Rio spin-off The Town took place in São Paulo last year at the Interlagos race track, attracting 500,000 fans over five days to see acts such as Post Malone, Foo Fighters, Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars.

 


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Mega K-pop fest to debut in Germany

KCON, the Korean pop music and culture convention operated by Korea’s largest media conglomerate CJ ENM, will debut in Germany this September.

Organised by Karsten Jahnke in cooperation with AEG Presents and CJ ENM, the German premiere is slated for 28–29 September at the Messe Frankfurt complex, with artists to be announced.

The last European KCON was held in Paris, France in 2016, and the French edition of CJ ENM’s K-pop music chart show, M COUNTDOWN FRANCE, was held in 2023.

KCON was launched in the US in 2012 and has since been held in Japan, UAE, France, Mexico, Australia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia.

“KCON Germany 2024 has much more to offer than fans would expect at a premiere”

Over the past 12 years, the brand has drawn around 1.83 million fans worldwide, earning the title of ‘The world’s biggest K-pop fan and artist festival’.

“We are very happy that KCON will be held in Germany for the first time – especially for the K-Pop fans in Europe who have been waiting for this for so long,” says Harry HK Shin, head of music Entertainment at CJ ENM.

“With spectacular stage shows and a diverse program, KCON Germany 2024 has much more to offer than fans would expect at a premiere. We will do our best to create and offer interactive and comprehensive experiences between fans and artists.”

KCON is due to hold five editions this year: Hong Kong and Japan editions have already taken place, a Los Angeles instalment is set for July, and Saudi Arabia is on the cards.

Germany previously hosted Europe’s first K-pop festival, Kpop.Flex festival, which sold more than 70,000 tickets in 84 countries.

 


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