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Neil Warnock: “It’s time to get entrepreneurial”

UTA’s global head of touring, Neil Warnock, has predicted that the demand for live entertainment when the threat of Covid-19 starts to subside “will be like opening a floodgate”, but says the industry needs to be entrepreneurial about how concerts can return.

“People will definitely want to be entertained, they will want to go and see some music and I think [live entertainment] is going to have a boom time,” Warnock told ILMC head Greg Parmley during his Eurosonic Noorderslag keynote ‘What is the Future of Live?’.

“But if we can’t go and see music the way that we hope to see it, maybe we can provide it in a different way? Let’s be entrepreneurial and think about how we can actually bring everybody together. We’ve got an audience and we’ve got artists so how we are going to actually make it work in a safe environment, in a way that maybe we weren’t looking at before?” he said.

However, the UTA chief is optimistic that the pandemic – and the subsequent shakeup in the agency landscape – has given the industry the fresh sense of entrepreneurship that is needed.

“We’re seeing seeing some very interesting developments, as we always do in these circumstances, where agents have left the major agencies to set up their own shop and, to me, that’s very exciting because I think [those agents] are the new entrepreneurs of the future,” he said.

“I think what’s going to come out of this is very refreshing because it’s shaken up the industry. It’s all made us think of what we’re going to do and I think in the next couple of years we’re going to see some exciting stuff happening. I think the strong will get stronger, the entrepreneurs will make money, and the people we lose, we should probably have lost anyway.”

“Nationally, we should be looking at our own artists that don’t have to leave the country and how best we utilise their time”

Warnock said that one way agents could be enterprising in the current climate is to come up with innovative ways to utilise and develop their domestic roster, until international touring can properly resume.

“Nationally, we should be looking at our own artists that don’t have to leave the country and how best we utilise their time and how best we put bills and events together within the UK. And so we’re providing entertainment with local talent as much as we can and developing or redeveloping some of the talent that maybe hasn’t been out to a number of cities or towns in many years.

“For example, if you have an artist that has done 10 arenas, there’s nothing stopping them doing 50 theatres. Also, there’s a lot of smaller open-air events that one could look at and say ‘how can we successfully promote that?’. I think it’s just about entrepreneurship and thinking on the ground about how best we’re going to do this.”

While Warnock says the return of European touring will rely on both the safety and economic viability of shows, he’s hopeful about organising tours in Australasia in the not-too-distant future, where many countries have got the virus under control and are embracing a return to live.

“I can see artists flying independently and doing a Japanese tour, once they’ve got the situation under control, and maybe playing Singapore and Hong Kong if they are safe. Same, if Australia and New Zealand begin to open up, but they can be toured seperately or South America,” he said.

“Nationally, we should be looking at our own artists that don’t have to leave the country and how best we utilise their time”

As for Brexit, Warnock believes that the UK will find a practical solution for touring because it has to, but until then “we become third country status”.

“If you look at that as a definition of where the UK is in the world, that then gives you an idea of what can happen in terms of work permits, and how we actually work with our partner countries across across Europe. So we’ll be treated in the same way as the US, or Australia or Canada going into Europe.”

During the keynote, Warnock also addressed the snowballing popularity of livestreaming and says he believes it’s going to be a component of the live experience going forward.

“I don’t see it going away. Some are saying if you’ve got an artist that can generally sell 15,000–20,000 tickets in London, why not put them in the Albert Hall and sell 5,000 concert tickets and 15,000 livestream tickets,” he said.

“My view is, fine, I would much rather keep the live component going and play to all of those 20,000 people but I think this is going to depend on the artist and what they want to do with their time and their lives.

“Not every streaming show has been an unbelievable success, the big ones where there’s been good investment have proved to do well. But even then, it’s not guaranteed that a streaming show is going to do which is the same with live.”

Eurosonic Noorderslag concludes today.

 


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Mental health of industry pros exposed in new book

Mental health behind the scenes of the live music, festival and event industry has been documented in a new book titled, Stay Sound & Check Yourself.

The book derives from a series of interviews conducted by business insider Holger Jan Schmidt and psychologist Prof. Dr Katja Ehrenberg, exploring the psychological effects of working in ‘an industry that never sleeps’.

The book assembles 15 interviewees that represent the diversity of the European live music industry  – from a 23-year-old Belgian-born PR to a 60-year-old scene veteran from Switzerland – to find out how working in an industry that has such demanding yet fulfilling working conditions impacts their mental health.

Both the individual interviews and the group discussions found that all the professionals share similar experiences of what they find deeply rewarding and what they find stressful in their work. Almost all of them know mental crises, depression or anxieties.

“For every Avicii or Keith Flint, there are a thousand promoters or cable guys who have a similar problem”

As one interviewee put it: “For every Avicii or Keith Flint, there are a thousand promoters or cable guys who have a similar problem.” And another said: “The passion and the burnout go hand in hand.”

Featuring interviews conducted pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic, the book also reports on the unprecedented challenges that have arisen in the past year and gives interviewees the opportunity to reflect on risks and opportunities presented by the pandemic.

The interviews are framed by professional background information on stress and mental health at work and effective suggestions for prevention and intervention, as well as links to further free resources on the issue.

Schmidt and Ehrenberg will mark the release of the publication at Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) on 14 January alongside Chris Kemp (Momconsultancy), Fruzina Szep (Goodlive) and Lina Urginovska (Password Productions).

Stay Sound & Check Yourself can be ordered from local book shops around Europe and online retailers. All author profits from book sales will be reinvested to projects promoting the visibility of the mental health issue and building prevention and intervention tools.

 


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ESNS announces keynote with Dua Lipa’s manager

Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has announced a keynote interview with Wendy Ong, Dua Lipa’s manager and US president of Tap Music and Tap Records.

Ong will be in conversation with artist manager and board member of Music Managers Forum (MMF) Netherlands, Lijne Kreupeling, discussing the evolving profession of modern artist management.

As president of Tap Management and Tap Records US, Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for a diverse roster of artists including Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Hailee Steinfeld, and more.

The US music manager and executive is the latest addition for the 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival, which will take place digitally between 13 to 16 January.

The digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.

Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for artists including Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding and Hailee Steinfeld

Highlights of the Road to Recovery programme include:

Other confirmed speakers for the conference include: Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum), Beverley Whitrick (Music Venues Trust), Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Eric van Eerdenburg (Lowlands/MOJO), Fruzsina Szep (Goodlive), Hannah Shgbola (Echo Location), Helen Sildna (Tallinn Music Week), Helen Smith (Impala), Henrick Bondo (Roskilde Festival), Jess Partridge (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing), Keith Harris (Keith Harris Music Ltd), Michal Kascak (Pohoda Festival). See the full conference programme here.

Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a discounted price of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database. The showcase part of the festival will be completely free.

 


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Eurosonic Noorderslag to go fully digital for 2021

Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) will now go ahead in a digital-only format next January as hopes for a part-virtual, part-physical format have been dashed by the current circumstances.

Organisers say that given the current situation and government guidelines (which ask residents to stay at home under the current lockdown), organising a physical edition is no longer feasible.

The 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival will take place between 13 to 16 January, as originally scheduled, but now on a digital platform.

Robert Meijerink, ESNS head of programme says: “Although we are sad that the acts, audience and music professionals cannot meet each other live in Groningen we think that’s it’s very important in these challenging times, to bring the people of the live music sector, artists, venues and festivals and media together during the digital edition of the ESNS and as the key exchange for emerging European music talent we will work hard to make sure we continue to provide that platform to new artists.”

“It’s very important in these challenging times to bring the people of the live music sector together”

The event’s digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.

“January 2021 is the perfect time to look ahead and discuss strategies around the re-opening of the live music scene as we know it and to evaluate where we are on medication, vaccine, and fast testing. Looking at the impact on mental health within the industry and finding solutions to sustainability will also be a focus as well as lobbying members of the European Parliament for support of the sector.”

Speakers confirmed for the upcoming edition include Paradigm agents Tom Windish and Mike Malak, Warner Music’s Scott Cohen, Raphaella Lima (EA Games) on music in games, and A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neil talking about the importance of sustainability.

Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a substantial discount of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database.

 


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Dutch Performing Arts Fund gives generously to festivals

The Performing Arts Fund (Fonds Podiumkunsten, FPK), a €62 million cultural fund provided by the Dutch government, has published decisions on multi-year grants between 2021 and 2024.

Almost 60 festivals across the Netherlands will benefit from multi-year subsidies that include a contribution to programming costs and an organization contribution.

The fund announced that the percentage of grants given to festivals is much higher than the other creative sectors that applied for subsidies, with almost all positively assessed festivals receiving a programming contribution.

Eurosonic Noorderslaag has been granted €75,000 per edition between 2021 and 2024, while Into the Great Wide Open will receive €100,000 for each edition and Welcome to the Village, €50,000 per event.

Vestrock, Le Guess Who?, and Rewire also received a portion of the fund dedicated to festivals.

“Over the next four years, we will support a wide variety of festivals throughout the country: from large-scale and multidisciplinary to small and operating in a niche,” says director Henriëtte Post. “The knowledge about local roots and the contribution of a festival to the regional maker’s climate was optimally included in the assessment. This was made possible by working with country advisers.”

The multi-year festival fund also received applications from a number of new festivals, such as Roadburn and FestiValderAa.

Different amounts were available for each part of the country and the fund collaborated with municipalities and provinces to ensure an even spread of funding for festivals across the nation.

The fund will also provide a multi-year subsidy to 78 artists and performing arts institutions. Makers and institutions such as the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra, Rose Stories, Eva Line de Boer (Euphoria Foundation), Tjon Rockon (Grande Loge), Jasper van Luijk (Shifft), and Miranda Lakerveld (World Opera Lab) are among the 33 applicants who received a multi-year production grant for the first time.

Post says that because all applications have been assessed based on plans submitted to the fund in March, pre-pandemic, the initiative will review with the successful applicants whether the submitted plans require adjustments.

 


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ESNS 2020: World-leading Iceland preps gender-balanced showcase

After topping the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index poll for the 11th year running in 2019, Iceland will send a gender-balanced delegation to Eurosonic Noorderslag later this month.

The annual showcase festival, which returns to Groningen, the Netherlands, on 15–18 January, features six Icelandic acts: experimental pop act JFDR, rapper Cell7, synth-pop duo Warmland, electronic pop artist Sólveig Matthildur, electro-psych act President Bongo and contemporary classical composer Gabríel Ólafs.

“I am delighted that we are now in our second decade of topping the WEF Global Gender Gap Index,” comments Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

“We are proud that these efforts to achieve gender parity are also evident in our musical scene, with an equal number of both female and male artists playing at Eurosonic festival this year and musical trailblazers paving new paths in all genres from hip-hop to soundtracks.”

Eurosonic announced its full 2020 schedule before Christmas, including all performers and conference sessions. See IQ’s recommended artists, along with those of other international media, here.

See a YouTube playlist of the Icelandic ESNS acts below:

 


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Swiss music to take centre stage at ESNS 2020

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), the largest showcase of emerging European music acts, has announced that its 2020 edition will focus on Switzerland, in cooperation with Swiss Music Export.

Each year, the festival concentrates on showcasing talent from a specific focus nation. This year’s event had a dual focus on artists from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Next year, it is Switzerland’s turn to be in the spotlight.

“The Swiss music scene is thrilled to be the focus of ESNS 2020,” says Swiss Music Export’s managing director, Jean Zuber. “For many years, Swiss acts have showcased in Groningen and quite a number of them started their international careers through ESNS and the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP).”

“Switzerland is not only home to a very active and creative artistic scene, it has the highest festival density in the world. Swiss Music Export will join forces with many music organisations in order to ensure a creative role for ESNS 2020,” adds Zuber.

“For many years, Swiss acts have showcased in Groningen and quite a number of them started their international careers through ESNS and the European Talent Exchange Programme”

ESNS booker Robert Meijerink says the Swiss music scene “has been making waves” in recent years.

“Key partners of ESNS such as Yourope and the European Broadcasting Union are based in Switzerland,” adds Meijerink. “A significant number of [Swiss] artists have been crossing European borders already. We can’t wait to get started with Swiss Music Export and their partners to work on ESNS 2020.”

ESNS 2019 attracted over 42,000 guests, showcasing 342 acts across ten stages. Acts wishing to play at the 2020 edition of the festival will be able to submit an online application for a showcase from 1 May until 1 September 2019.

The 35th of edition of ESNS will take place from 15 to 18 January 2020. Conference pre-sale registration for the 2020 festival is now available, at the super early bird rate of €265.

 


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One week countdown for ESNS 2019 begins

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), the largest showcase of promising European music talent, kicks off next Wednesday in Groningen, the Netherlands. This year’s festival promises to host 350 acts and more than 4,000 conference delegates, including festival bookers, expert panellists and other important industry figures.

ESNS serves as a key exchange for emerging European artists, combining a packed daytime conference schedule with an equally jammed evening live music programme. The De Oosterport conference centre in Groningen acts as the festival hub, a centre for industry networking, engaged debate and live music expertise.

Each year, the festival concentrates on showcasing talent from a specific focus nation. For ESNS 2019, the focus becomes double, with acts from both the Czech Republic and Slovakia taking centre stage.

ESNS serves as a key exchange for emerging European artists, combining a packed daytime conference schedule with an equally jammed evening live music programme

The festival opens on 16 January with the European Festival Awards (EFA), at which Peter Smidt, ESNS founder and creative director, will accept the prestigious lifetime achievement award.

Hungary’s Sziget Festival is once again nominated for the best major festival award, having taken home the prize for line-up of the year at last year’s EFAs. It contends for the top spot with Open’er Festival, Hellfest, Pinkpop and Roskilde Festival, among others. CAA agent and 2018 Music Industry Trusts (MITs) award winner Emma Banks appears among the nominees vying for success in the agent of the year category.

The European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP) returns to ESNS following another record-breaking year spreading and promoting the newest and best in European music. Festival shows played through the programme numbered 457 last summer. The programme’s 2018 winner, Superorganism, appears alongside fellow ETEP hits Zeal & Ardor and Sigrid on EFA’s newcomer of the year nominee list.

A change to proceedings sees the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards replace the long-running Europe Border Breaker Awards. The inaugural awards look to support new acts, offering winners the chance to play live at ESNS, and providing them with tailor-made training programmes, as well as financial help. British artists Bishop Briggs and Pale Waves find themselves among the triumphant 12 winners revealed in November.

 


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Peter Smidt to receive lifetime achievement award at EFAs

Peter Smidt, founder and creative director of Eurosonic Noorderslag, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Festival Awards (EFA) later this month.

The award will be presented to Smidt at the 2018 EFAs, which once again celebrate achievements in the festival industry across 15 categories. The EFA says it is proud to honour Smidt with the award, in recognition of all his work for the music industry.

The awards be co-hosted by IQ editor Gordon Masson and take place on 16 January 2019 in Groningen, the Netherlands, in conjunction with the opening of Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS).

Throughout his career, Smidt has served as a bastion of European music. He has worked closely with the European Music Office to develop strategies for protecting and promoting European artists, and has created initiatives to enable the expansion of artists across Europe.

The EFA says it is proud to honour Smidt with the award, in recognition of all his work for the music industry

Smidt was integral to the launching of the European Talent Exchange Programme which works with member festivals to promote the spread of European artists across the world. Last year, the initiative enjoyed a record-breaking summer, making 457 shows possible across the festival season.

Having organised the European Border Breakers Awards (EBBAs) for 15 years, Smidt this year initiated the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards to replace them. This EU-backed prize aims to celebrate and support up-and-coming European artists. The inaugural awards ceremony will take place at this year’s ESNS.

Kicking off with the European Festival Awards ceremony, this year’s ESNS will go on to play host to over 4,000 music industry experts and 350 artists across four days of panel discussions, expert talks and live music events.

Last year’s award for lifetime achievement went to Daniel Rossellat, founder and president of Swiss rock festival, Paléo festival Nyon.

 


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ESNS adds 19 acts from 2019 focus countries

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has expanded the line-up for its 2019 edition with 19 acts from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the two focus countries of ESNS 2019.

Alongside the previously announced Hellwana (CZ) and Isama Zing (SK), ten more acts from the Czech Republic, and nine from Slovakia, will showcase in Groningen in January.

From the Czech Republic, they are: Bohemian Cristal Instrument, Circus Brothers, Floex and Tom Hodge, Lazer Viking, Lenny, Manon Meurt, Mydy Rabycad, Pipes and Pints, Thom Artway and Zabelov Group.

Autumnist, B-complex, Katarína Máliková and Ensemble, Möbius, Nvmeri, Our Stories, the Ills, Thisnis and Tittingur will represent Slovakia.

“We are keen to showcase the unique, high-quality music from these two neighbours”

“We are keen to showcase the unique, high-quality music from these two neighbours,” says ESNS booker Robert Meijerink. “Although two of the youngest countries in Europe, they both have diverse and growing music scenes, a great history and lots of amazing music to be discovered.”

ESNS returns to Groningen in the Netherlands from 16 to 19 January 2019, and will feature showcases from around 350 emerging artists. More than 4,000 industry delegates attended Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018, which saw performances from 300 European acts, including 22 from focus country Denmark.

A limited number of late-rate tickets are still available from the Eurosonic conference website.

 


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