Major festivals enjoy record sell-outs for 2022
Austria’s Nova Rock is the latest festival to report a record sell-out, as the sector embarks on its first full season since 2019.
The event’s promoter, Nova Music Entertainment, says a total of 225,000 visitors are expected to attend the four-day festival in Nickelsdorf this June, which marks a new attendance record.
“We are so happy and proud,” says Nova Music Entertainment, which is part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music.
After two consecutive cancellations, the annual hard rock event will return to Pannonia Fields between 9–12 June with acts including Muse, Placebo, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Rock am Ring recently announced that a record 90,000 weekend tickets had sold for its 2022 edition, while twin festival Rock im Park shifted more than 70,000 tickets.
Both of the eventimpresents/DreamHaus’s events took place last weekend with acts including Green Day, Muse, Volbeat, Placebo, Måneskin.
“Event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their event trips than even pre-Covid levels”
Around 1 million people registered for the chance to buy tickets to Rock in Rio’s Brazil event, which runs over two weekends from 2–4 and 8–11 September and hosts 100,000 fans per day at the Cidade do Rock.
The 4 September date, starring Justin Bieber, was the fastest sell out at a record 12 minutes, followed by days headlined by Coldplay (27 minutes), Post Malone (59 minutes), Dua Lipa (64 minutes), Green Day (104 minutes) and Guns N’ Roses (285 minutes). The remaining 2 September date, topped by Iron Maiden, has also now sold out.
Rock Werchter, meanwhile, sold out months ahead of when it typically would, with 67,000 combi-tickets and four lots of 21,000 one-day tickets flying off the shelf by the beginning of February.
Elsewhere in LN Belgium’s stable of events, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel was expanded from 50,000 capacity to 52,000 after most tickets sold out in early November.
Top promoters and ticketing firms including DEAG, Dice, Event Genius and The Ticket Factory have all confirmed the pent-up demand for events, saying that current ticket sales are even higher than pre-pandemic levels.
“Such is the demand for events and experiences – both domestically and abroad – event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their domestic and international event trips than even pre-Covid levels,” Event Genius’s CEO Benjamin Leaver told IQ.
Further evidencing a bumper festival season to come, an unprecedented number of new festivals are launching this year.
Promoters including FKP Scorpio, Goodlive, AEG, Goldenvoice and Live Nation have all added to their stable of festivals, as most prepare for their busiest festival season on record.
AEG Presents’ Jim King shares forecast for 2022
This article is the second part of IQ’s interview with Jim King, originally published in December 2021. To read the first instalment, in which King discusses Adele and BST Hyde Park 2022, click here.
Jim King, CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents, warns the industry to be careful with thinking that the pent-up demand seen in early summer 2021 will remain.
“I have some caution over 2022 and the concern remains that the industry has reacted, in some areas, by oversupplying the market with rescheduled tours sitting on top of new tours which now sit very closely to summer festival periods,” he says.
“The industry needs to pause and reflect on how many tickets it feels can be sold in 2022 and 2023 and then react and plan accordingly. The problem is that our industry has a problem saying no.”
Alongside a slew of rescheduled tours, 2022 is also set to gain a multitude of new events, extended editions and revived festivals.
Tomorrowland (Belgium), Primavera (Spain), Mad Cool (Spain), Standon Calling (UK), InMusic (Croatia) and Summer Breeze (Germany) are among the existing festivals to be extended in 2022 – in some cases by entire weekends. Meanwhile, promoters including FKP Scorpio, Goldenvoice, Primavera, Live Nation and DreamHaus have marked brand new festivals in 2022’s increasingly busy calendar.
“The industry needs to pause and reflect on how many tickets it feels can be sold in 2022 and 2023 and then react”
In light of concerns about oversupplying, King says AEG has hit pause on pre-pandemic plans for new events and is instead focused on rejuvenating existing festivals. One such event is Rock en Seine (ReS), the responsibility for which which recently passed to his team, allowing a “total review” of what the enduring Paris festival could be.
“The challenge, like with many long-standing events, was that we needed to reset what the event stood for and what we wanted to say to fans, artists, media, and sponsors,” explains King.
In October it was announced that the 18th edition of the annual event will take place in an extended four-day format with a “new vision and one of the most impressive line-ups in the history of the festival”. Stromae, Tame Impala and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds are to headline between 25–28 August in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.
“The challenge, like with many long-standing events, was that we needed to reset what the [Rock en Seine] stood for”
“We just feel that the new format offers a more compelling commercial framework and one that aligns with the modern festival industry landscape which has changed a great deal over the last 20 years,” says King.
“ReS needed to reflect these changes. More days means we get to work with more artists and that’s another great reason to expand. Plus, Paris is one of the most accessible and culturally vibrant cities in the world. We felt that we had the opportunity to reflect that and widen the appeal of the festival to more fans.”
King says he prefers to look forward rather than backwards but that the lockdown was “tough” financially. “We are very fortunate that our owner was hugely supportive of our company and so we were able to plan through that period,” he says. “It’s our job now to repay that commitment and recover the losses from 2020 with a solid strategic plan for 2022/23 that builds on from the successes we were able to deliver at All Points East 2021.”
“It’s our job now to repay that commitment and recover the losses from 2020 with a solid strategic plan for 2022/23”
King says that strategic plan is to take a “new and fresh approach” to line-ups that were announced before the pandemic.
“That didn’t mean that we stopped working with all the acts from 2020 but we sought to reshape and strengthen the line ups,” he says. “Examples of this included Bombay Bicycle Club who instead played with Foals in 2021 [at All Points East] and Kraftwerk now playing with The Chemical Brothers in 2022.”
Discussing how he sees the recovery of the international live music industry progressing, King says the challenge will be whether the industry can approach 2022 and 2023 with the spirit of collaboration that was fostered in 2021.
“I think we saw the resilience that the industry can offer in some of the successes in 2021. The ability to mobilise quickly and work collaboratively throughout the supply chain to deliver high-quality shows demonstrates how strong we can be when we work with a common interest. If we can do this again, then recovery will be quicker and built on much stronger foundations.”
Yourope restructures, relocates to Germany
European festival association Yourope, which represents 108 festivals including Sziget and Primavera Sound, is restructuring and relocating.
Founded in 1988, the association has ties with London, Roskilde and St.Gallen but as of April 2021, the organisation is based in Bonn, Germany.
The move comes as Christof Huber, director of festivals at the Swiss Gadget ABC Entertainment Group who is also responsible for Yourope member festivals OpenAir St.Gallen and SummerDays, moves from general secretary to working chairman.
Huber will chair Yourope’s executive board and continue to ‘actively steer the association’s fortunes from the top’.
“The importance of our organisation became more obvious than ever last year, because especially in times when major events are impossible due to the pandemic, the need of the actors in this cultural field for exchange, international cooperation and speaking with a common voice grew once again,” says Huber.
“And despite these challenging times we succeeded in restructuring our organisation, expanding the network and securing even closer relationships with valued associates.”
“The importance of our organisation became more obvious than ever last year”
“I look forward to continuing to use my strength and experience for this purpose – together with our members and the new Yourope team.”
Assuming Huber’s former role as general secretary is Holger Jan Schmidt, who was previously anchorman and coordinator of Yourope’s sustainability-related working group Go Group (Green Operations Europe) and Take a Stand, the association’s social engagement initiative.
He will also run Yourope’s new office in Bonn, which will become part of the Bonn-based Compentence Network along with Schmidt’s Bonn Promotion Dept (BN*PD) and the IBIT (International Training Centre for Event Safety), which has been a key contributor to the steering committee of the Yes Group (Yourope Event Safety Group) for years.
“We have been a member of Yourope for almost twenty years – first with our festival, Rheinkultur, and for 10 years as an associated member with the Competence Network here in Bonn,” says Schmidt.
“I have identified with this institution from the beginning and travelled all over Europe with and for Yourope. To talk about festivals, to give festivals the opportunity to exchange, and above all to get to know and experience festivals and their philosophy.
“I couldn’t be prouder and happier to be trusted to take on this new role for Yourope and to continue to work on those issues that are close to my heart. And to do so from my hometown, which means a lot to me.”
Yourope: ‘European festivals need strategy and bailout’
Yourope, the association of European festivals, has made the latest appeal for a clear perspective and a financial bailout plan to enable organisers to plan for the forthcoming summer season without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
In a statement, Yourope asks whether festival organisers can expect to be able to hold their events as normal and at full capacity, provided they ensure that additional protective measures are in place; what measures will they need to take in terms of guests, staff and suppliers; and whether international artists be allowed to travel as needed.
The appeal outlines key requirements for a full and safe return to live including a transparent roadmap from the authorities, which would inform a strategy with clear guidelines and coherent timeframes, and a proportionate relaxation of measures which are devised using the expertise of the international festival industry.
Yourope has also called for a financial bailout plan – similar to Norway’s NOK 350m scheme – in the event that stricter Covid measures mean it is no longer economically viable for an organiser to carry out their event as normal.
“Without this bailout, planning these events becomes a forlorn hope and will grind to a halt, as our badly battered and bruised industry can no longer bear the weight of these scarcely predictable risks alongside their normal financial risks alone,” the statement says.
“Now the time has come to develop a strategy for 2021’s summer of events”
In a final call to arms, Yourope says: “Now the time has come to develop a strategy for 2021’s summer of events. We owe it to the millions of visitors who have trusted us enough not to return their tickets, to our many thousands of staff and contractors, to big-time and lesser-known artists, and to our suppliers to preserve the cultural diversity we have created as event organisers.”
Yourope – whose membership includes Spain’s Primavera Sound, the Netherlands’ Lowlands and Serbia’s Exit Festival – joins dozens of associations and festival organisers across Europe in urging governments to provide clarity and contingency for the northern hemisphere’s festival season.
Last week, Swiss promoters’ association SMPA released a similar statement co-signed by 26 domestic festivals, while Danish festival organisers welcomed the news of the introduction of vaccine passports but called for a roadmap for reopening.
Elsewhere, Portugal is examining whether ‘safe bubbles’ of vaccinated festivalgoers could be the key to keeping fans and artists safe this summer, French festival operators ‘have 11 days to save festivals’, and the UK festival sector is waiting with bated breath for the prime minister to reveal a roadmap on the 22 February.
The lessons that can be learned from 2020’s lost festival summer will be discussed at ILMC during Festival Forum: Reboot & Reset, while leading festivals operators will be discussing the evolving passions, priorities and unique features of their events in Festival Futures: Core Priorities.
Baloise first European festival to cancel 2021
Swiss concerts series Baloise Session is the first major European festival to cancel its in-person 2021 edition, as organisers say it’s “impossible to plan with any certainty” due to the limitations of the pandemic.
The Baloise Session, which has hosted acts including John Legend, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys and Lionel Richie, was due to take place between the 23 October to 10 November at Basel’s Event Halle but will now forgo the event for a second consecutive year.
“The decision was a difficult one to make but health comes first,” says Beatrice Stirnimann, CEO of the Baloise Session. “Covid-19 continues to affect the world and the Baloise Session in 2021. The health of our visitors, artists and staff comes first. Concerts in an intimate setting with an enthusiastic audience do not fit with social distancing and all the other current pandemic restrictions.
“Concerts in an intimate setting with an enthusiastic audience do not fit with social distancing and all the other restrictions”
“The artists are sensibly continuing to severely limit their travel, are not planning any new tours, and in these difficult times are hardly able to make binding concert engagements. All these facts make it impossible to plan with any certainty. Without planning and financial security, the Baloise Session cannot be held.
“Our principal sponsors Basler Kantonalbank, Novartis, Dufry, AMAG, Cornèrcard and IWB also show great understanding and are helping financially to make ends meet. We are extremely grateful for this loyalty. This is the lifeblood of our 35-year-old festival,” she concludes.
The Baloise Session, which sold out all 15,500 tickets for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019, will return in 2022 and in the meantime will continue with its livestreamed concert series ‘Baloise Session @ Home’.
Elsewhere in the European festival market, French metal festival Hellfest yesterday begged the government to make a decision on whether this year’s season could go ahead and Danish festival organisers have appealed for government support.
Laura Davidson joins new AEG European festivals team
Longtime Goldenvoice UK promoter Laura Davidson has joined AEG Presents’ new European festival division, established earlier this month under CEO Jim King.
Davidson joined AEG-owned Goldenvoice in 2014 alongside former Metropolis colleague Oscar Tuttiett. She was most recently Goldenvoice UK’s VP of live music.
As part of the new European festival unit, she will serve as head of artist bookings, responsible for all bookings for All Points East (APE) in Victoria Park, London. She will also support King across all existing AEG festivals, as well as future projects.
“Laura will be an integral part of the team”
“Laura will be an integral part of the team and I couldn’t be happier that she has joined us,” comments King. “She is one of the most passionate music fans that I have ever met and has proven herself to be expertly skilled in the role of originating and curating incredible festival line-ups.”
Davidson adds: “I’m excited to be joining this new division at AEG. I was very proud to have been part of the team that launched a brand-new festival with All Points East. I’m looking forward to an even better 2020 in Victoria Park, as well as working with Jim across all of AEG’s festivals.”
In addition to APE, the European festival division oversees British Summer Time Hyde Park in London and Rock en Seine in Paris.
AEG promotes Jim King to CEO, EU festivals
AEG Presents has announced that Jim King, current executive vice-president of live music, is to take on a new role as chief executive of European Festivals.
King’s appointment will launch the newly created European Festivals division, as AEG Presents looks to expand its presence in Europe. In his new role, King will seek out new opportunities in the festival space.
King previously worked for club brand Cream, later launching and running Creamfields festival. Prior to working at AEG, King ran his own company, Loudsound, which promoted and produced several UK festivals.
Since joining AEG Presents in 2008, King launched and produced BST Hyde Park in 2015 and All Points East in 2018.
The European Festivals boss will continue to work from AEG’s London office, reporting directly to president of AEG Europe, Alex Hill.
“I really believe that AEG does something truly special when it comes to festivals,” says King.
“I really believe that AEG does something truly special when it comes to festivals”
“The music fans and the artists are always at the heart of our thinking and this has meant we have been able to curate shows that resonate with them and keep both coming back.”
Hill, who says King “is without a doubt the very best at what he does”, expects “great things” from the European Festivals chief executive and his team.
“We wanted to give him [King] the freedom to accelerate AEG’s activity in the festival space hence the creation of this division and his leadership role at the head of it,” comments Hill. “Being able to confirm him in this job as we approach the second weekend of BST Hyde Park seems very fitting indeed.”
BST returns this weekend (13 and 14 July), with headline performances from Florence and the Machine and Robbie Williams. Tickets for the Saturday are still available, with general admission priced at £73.60 and VIP packages starting from £163.95.