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NZ’s The Bay of Islands fest axed over Covid fears

The Bay of Islands festival has become the latest event to fall by the wayside in New Zealand as a result of the uncertainty around Covid.

Salmonella Dub ft Tiki Taane, Laughton Kora and Whirimako Black, Jess B, Muroki, Sunshine Sound System ft. Rubi Du, Big G and Savage were among artists due to appear at Waitangi Sports Grounds in the Northland region on Saturday 29 January.

Festival organisers cite Northland’s red traffic light setting, which currently bans gatherings of more than 100 people and requires 1m social distancing, for the cancellation.

“We have held on for as long as we could before making this difficult decision, but uncertainty over the traffic light system level on the date of the festival, the ongoing threat of large gatherings being implicated as exposure events, coupled with Northland lagging behind with vaccination rates is all conspiring to negatively impact what should be a fun celebration,” says Jackie Sanders of Jacman Entertainment.

“We feel we need to pause until the country has moved through this critical stage of the pandemic”

Sanders says it is the 10th event she has had to cancel since August, with Jacman Entertainment now exploring the possibility of presenting smaller events over the summer with limited numbers.

“We feel we need to pause until the country has moved through this critical stage of the pandemic,” she adds. “All the suppliers and artists have been incredibly supportive, so it is devastating to have to make this decision.”

Last week, Rod Stewart’s scheduled nine-date spring run in Australia and New Zealand, originally scheduled for 2020, became the highest-profile casualty to date following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. New Zealand shows by Northern Bass and Violet Femmes gigs have also been axed.

 


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AEG’s Jim King: ‘Fans will expect more in 2022’

AEG Presents CEO of European Festivals Jim King says the live business will need to “up its game” in 2022 to meet fans’ raised expectations.

Though heartened by the success of the festivals that managed to go ahead in late summer ’21 following the Covid washout of the previous summer, the leading exec advises the bar will be set higher for the coming season.

“We must be careful,” he tells IQ. “The emergence from multiple lockdowns created a unique demand that is unlikely to repeat in the same way.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021. We will see an increasing upturn in expectation from fans as the year plays out and they have been to more and more shows and there will be a need for the industry to up its game to keep fans attending and buying more tickets in the later part of the year.”

“For some artists and events, 2022 has a risk of being a hangover from the pandemic rather than the strong return the industry needs”

Highlighting the potential problems for tours and festivals over the next 12 months, King points to the number of headline tours rescheduled from 2020/21 into 2022 – an issue set to be further exacerbated by the ongoing disruption to the circuit in Q1 ’22.

“Many of the sales cycles sit on top of each other and in many cases, also sit on top of the festivals that the artist is also appearing on,” he says. “Ultimately, tour and festival announcements need to be carefully coordinated, but if an artist normally sells 5,000 tickets in a market per cycle, then packaging 10,000 or more tickets around a festival play all in the same market in one year is going to be a challenge, and some artists and events will suffer.

“At some point there is likely to be fatigue between fans and certain artists, resulting in some events experiencing lower sales and/or higher non-attendance. If not managed, then for some artists and events, 2022 has a risk of being a hangover from the pandemic rather than the strong return the industry needs.”

AEG’s flagship UK concert series, BST Hyde Park, was cancelled for the second year in succession in 2021, but will return with a bumper line-up this summer. The London-based festival is to take place across two weeks from 24 June to 10 July, with concerts from Elton John (24 June), Eagles (26 June), Duran Duran (10 July), Pearl Jam (8–9 July) and, in a huge coup, Adele (1–2 July).

“With the volume of shows in play, fans will not respond favourably if their expectations are not being met”

The promoter’s All Points East staple was able to take place in London’s Victoria Park last August and its 2022 edition is set over two weekends from 19-20 and 25-28 August with headliners Gorillaz, The Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala, The National and Disclosure.

AEG’s French festival, Rock en Seine (ReS), meanwhile, has swelled to a four-day format and will be headlined by Stromae, Tame Impala and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds from 25–28 August in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.

King has previously explained the company paused its pre-pandemic plans for new events in favour of focusing on rejuvenating established festivals. But as the industry gears up for its first proper summer season since 2019, he retains high hopes of a strong return.

“Overall, I am positive for the summer,” concludes King. “AEG has a fantastic series of festivals on sale with amazing headliners, but the ball is in our court to deliver great fan experiences, and with the volume of shows in play, fans will not respond favourably if their expectations are not being met.”

Read the full interview with King in IQ 107, out now.

 


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Oz live alliance ramps up appeal for Covid support

Australian trade bodies are repeating calls for a government-backed insurance scheme for live music and events after an extension was announced to a fund helping the screen sector through the pandemic.

In November, the Victorian government unveiled plans for a 12-month pilot scheme to insure up to AUS$230 million (€148m) of events “against cancellation due to public health measures, or where events have reduced capacity due to restrictions”.

However, nationwide assistance has not been forthcoming despite the federal government extending its Temporary Interruption Fund (TIFF) for film and TV productions.

“The Temporary Interruption Fund for the Film industry was extended by $50m [€31.7m], yet the live music and entertainment industry’s calls over the past 18 months for a similar national scheme have fallen on deaf ears.,” says a statement by united live music and entertainment industry bodies including Live Performance Australia.

“Australia now lags behind New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia in delivering a solution to this issue. Victoria has already delivered an insurance scheme that is now set to be tested by the Omicron-related disruptions, but a national approach is needed if the live music and entertainment industry is going to ‘ride this wave’, survive and play its role living with the virus.”

“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected”

The sector’s recovery has been stopped in its tracks by the spread of the Omicron variant, which has led to mass cancellations and rescheduled events. The latest plea comes as three more Australian music festivals were cancelled or postponed in the space of 24 hours after New South Wales banned singing and dancing at unseated events.

NSW’s Grapevine Gathering fell by the wayside four days before it was due to take place, while touring metal and punk festival Full Tilt postponed its Brisbane edition until the end of April and cancelled its Adelaide concert set for 29 January.

“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected,” Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson tells the Guardian. “We appreciate the support we’ve had, but the government needs to step up and introduce a national scheme. Yes the states have a role, but it has been very disappointing that the federal government hasn’t led and pulled the states together and worked with them.

“We have people that haven’t been able to work for two years. Before Omicron, workers could get daily PCR tests to keep working, now they can’t even get rapid antigen tests. We’ve fallen into an abyss… the notion that it is all over and that we’ll ride through this, but that is not the reality we’re living in right now. We need support until things settle down.”

 


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Glastonbury reports £3.1m loss in latest accounts

The UK’s Glastonbury festival posted a loss of £3.1 million for the year ending March 2021, according to documents posted on Companies House.

The event was forced to cancel due to the pandemic for a second successive year in 2021. Turnover was down to £936,000, compared to £45.867m in the previous 12 months. Post-tax losses amounted to £370,330 in 2020.

“Since 2009, the company has retained profits in order to provide a float for the next festival,” says the documents. “Due to the company retaining profits in previous years to build up this float, the company was able to cover the significant loss incurred resulting from the Covid pandemic and the cancellation of the festival in 2020 as well as contribute to running costs during 2021 when the festival was cancelled for the second year.”

The documents for Glastonbury Festival Events Limited list its main business risks as “possible breaches of the licence terms leading to the licence being withdrawn and the cancellation of the festival due to forces outside the control of the company such as extremely bad weather and a global pandemic”.

There are likely to be “significant costs specifically related to necessary Covid-19 measures and related issues” for the 2022 edition

Glastonbury hosted an exclusive global livestream from its Worthy Farm festival site on 22 May last year, featuring performances from the likes of Coldplay, Jorja Smith and George Ezra, in lieu of the flagship event. However, the initial broadcast was marred by technical issues.

Glastonbury is due to return to Worthy Farm this year from 22-26 June, with Billie Eilish the first and so far only headliner to be announced. The report notes there are likely to be “significant costs specifically related to necessary Covid-19 measures and related issues” for the 2022 edition.

The event has benefited from the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund, receiving £900,000 back in April 2021 and an extra £600,000 in November.

“The company has been fortunate enough to receive Arts Council funding since March 2021 year end, which has helped with future planning during the year to date,” adds the firm, which also organises two much smaller events, Pilton Party and Glastonbury Extravaganza.

 


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Travis Scott involved in festival safety blueprint

Travis Scott is reportedly involved in an initiative to put new festival safety protocols in place following the Astroworld disaster.

According to Billboard, the rapper has reached out to “target participants” including Live Nation, AEG, Spotify, Apple and ticketing companies, among others, to secure their involvement in the scheme, which he has spent the last three weeks working on with the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). Healthcare and public safety experts have also been approached.

USCM will announce the ‘Ensuring Festival Safety’ initiative at the 2022 USCM Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, scheduled for 19-21 January.

It is our hope that this report serves as the new safety and security blueprint for all festivals

The publication, which will be freely available online, will be compiled based on discussions that take place from January to June next year, and will include findings and recommendations on areas such as chain of command, crowd management and enforcement of health and safety regulations.

“It is our hope that this report serves as the new safety and security blueprint for all festivals,” states the agreement.

The news comes after Harris County medical examiner’s report concluded that the 10 victims of the Astroworld crowd crush at Houston’s NRG Park last month died of compression asphyxia. Another 300 people were injured among the 50,000 crowd.


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Friday round-up: World news in brief 17/12/21

Welcome to IQ‘s weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

AUSTRALIA:
TEG, the Sydney-based live entertainment, ticketing, and technology company, has appointed impresario Randy Phillips to the board of directors. The live music veteran most recently served as president and CEO of LiveStyle. Prior to that, Phillips was CEO at AEG Live for 13 years, where he promoted world tours for artists such as Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber. Phillips, whose role will be both advisory and operational, will contribute to the expansion of the TEG footprint in live entertainment, including the creation of unique, owned, or co-owned, and financed intellectual property.

GERMANY:
Semmel Concerts has set up its own booking department under the name SCE Artists & Events. “Of course, the booking area has always been an important part of our company DNA, which we are now professionalising and making more visible with the Artists & Events department,” says MD Dieter Semmelmann. “We act as a partner and networker between artist/production and customer. Due to our experience and our diverse portfolio, we are able to offer and implement individual and tailor-made concepts for our partners.”

FRANCE:
Midem, a music industry conference and festival in Cannes, has been officially axed after 55 years. The impact of Covid-19 forced the organisers to stage events online in 2020 and 2021. An in-person event was scheduled for June 2022 but has now been pulled. The event launched in January 1967 with the promise that execs could “do all your business in six sunny days in Cannes,” and it became a crucial fixture of the music industry calendar.

SPAIN:
The organisers of marquee Spanish festival Primavera Sound have warned that they may have to find a new host city in 2023 due to a “lack of interest and agreement” from Barcelona city council. Primavera Sound has taken place in Barcelona for 20 years and has recently expanded internationally with sister events in Los AngelesChile , Argentina and Brazil. The flagship event will mark its 20th-anniversary next year with an expanded edition.

UNITED STATES:
The 10 people who died in a crowd crush during Travis Scott’s concert at the Astroworld Festival in Houston last month accidentally suffocated, according to the Harris County medical examiner. The victims, aged 9 to 27 years old, died of compression asphyxia, the examiner’s report concluded. Another 300 people were injured among the audience of 50,000 people. Travis Scott has requested to be dismissed from multiple lawsuits he is named in relating to the Astroworld disaster.

NORWAY:
More than 160 music festivals across the country are to benefit from the latest round of compensation from the Norwegian government’s scheme for organisers and subcontractors in the cultural sector. Kongsberg Jazz Festival, Oslo World, Vossa Jazz, Night Jazz, Trondheim Jazz Festival, Oslo Jazz Festival, Beyond the Gates, Midgardsblot Metal Festival, Nordland Music Festival and Risør Chamber Music Festival are among the festivals that will receive a share in 2022. It was recently announced that the scheme, which has been running since 2020, will be continued until the summer of 2022.

UNITED STATES:
Opry Entertainment Group (OEG) has announced AXS as its official and exclusive ticketing partner. Under the partnership, AXS will provide its full suite of solutions for all OEG properties on a single platform, streamlining tour and show ticketing operations. OEG properties include the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, its Ole Red venues in Orlando, Gatlinburg, Nashville, Tishomingo and the recently announced Ole Red in Las Vegas (expected 2023). The partnership also creates new opportunities to align with AXS’s parent company AEG and its live event business, AEG Presents.

 


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Woo Hah! Festival joins forces with Rolling Loud

The Netherlands’ Woo Hah! hip-hop festival has joined forces with US festival organiser Rolling Loud.

According to Entertainment Business, Woo Hah! x Rolling Loud is set to take place from 1-3 July 2022 at Beekse Bergen in Hilvarenbeek. Line-up details will be announced soon.

Launched in 2014, Woo Hah! has attracted major international acts such as J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Stormzy and Tyler, The Creator.

We are always looking for how we can push the whole thing to a new level

“Over the past eight years, Woo Hah! has grown from a small festival to one of the largest players of its kind on the European market,” says festival director Ruud Lemmen. “We are super-proud of what we have built and are always looking for how we can push the whole thing to a new level.

“For the 20220 edition, we are starting a collaboration with Rolling Loud. This brand, in turn, is a leader in the American market with festivals in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Together, we will ensure an unforgettable festival summer for hip-hop lovers across Europe this summer.”

Woo Hah! Festival was founded by 013 and Mojo with the aim of bringing more major hip-hop acts to the Brabant region. In 2018, the event moved to its current site in Beekse Bergen.

 


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Europe’s biggest ever K-pop festival announced

Europe’s biggest ever K-Pop festival has been announced for Frankfurt, Germany in 2022.

Staged by K-Pop Europa, in partnership with PK Events and Korean broadcaster SBS Television Network, the 44,000-capacity Kpop.Flex will take place at Deutsche Bank Park on Saturday 14 May.

Monsta X and (G)I-DLE are the first names announced, with five more acts still to be unveiled for the event, which is part of a five-year plan to further grow the booming K-pop genre in Europe.

The Korean Wave has been gathering force in Europe for some time now

“The Korean Wave has been gathering force in Europe for some time now, so we are particularly excited to be able to give our growing fanbase what they want, right here on European turf, with the return to major live music events here in Frankfurt next spring,” says David Ciclitira, a partner in K-Pop Europa, which is a collaboration between Live Company Group (founded and chaired by Ciclitira) and Explorado Group.

Kpop.Flex will kick off the music season at Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park, which has already sold out three dates for Coldplay and two for Ed Sheeran later in the year. Korean broadcaster SBS will film the festival and create a made-for-TV edit, for screening in Korea after the event.

“K-pop.Flex is a really dynamic addition to our line-up, which includes Ed Sheeran and Coldplay – and we’ve already pre-sold 300,000 tickets for those,” adds Deutsche Bank Park MD Patrik Meyer.

Festival-goers will also be able to view original artworks by K-Pop stars Ohnim and Yooyeon and independent talent Henry Lau. Limited edition prints of these artworks will be available to purchase.

 


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Primavera Sound expands to Chile

Hot on the heels of news of its US expansion, Primavera Sound has announced its first Chile edition.

A co-production with Rock Stgo, the festival will be held in Bicentennial Park, Cerrillos, from 7-13 November 2022.

“The relationship between Primavera Sound and Chile comes from afar, but not only because of all the great Chilean artists who have passed through the festival,” says Primavera Sound director Gabi Ruiz. “There has always been a great relationship with Chilean institutions and, in fact, Chile is one of the countries that has accompanied us the most times in Barcelona within the framework of Primavera Pro.

“A Primavera Sound in Santiago is the best way to take that relationship to the next level and continue to create community. A Primavera Sound in Chile was therefore necessary. It had to happen.”

That the most important festival in Europe has chosen Chile as a destination fills us with pride

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the first-ever US edition of Primavera Sound will take place next year in Los Angeles, California, with headliners Arctic Monkeys, Nine Inch Nails and Lorde.

The California debut, co-produced with Live Nation, is scheduled from 16 to 18 September 2022 at the Los Angeles Historic Park.

The Chile spin-off is the latest addition to the Primavera Sound family, following the creation of sister conference Primavera Pro in 2010 and the Portuguese outing of the festival, Primavera Sound Porto, in 2012. Line-up details are still to be confirmed.

“That the most important festival in Europe has chosen Chile as a destination fills us with pride, but it is not something random,” adds Felipe Araya, general director of Rock Stgo. “It tells us about a solid national industry that has been professionalised by the hand of great local artists and top-level technicians.

“The parks that the Metropolitan Region has, under the efficient management of ParqueMet, specifically the Bicentennial of Cerrillos, given us the opportunity to hold a festival of this magnitude. That the public spaces of the country are open to deliver musical experiences like this to all citizens is one of the reasons why international festivals land with confidence in our country.”

 


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Paradigm’s Alex Hardee talks 2022 ticket sales

Paradigm Agency’s Alex Hardee has spoken to IQ about how the last two years of disruption has impacted on ticket sales for 2022.

The London-based agent, who represents acts including Liam Gallagher, London Grammar, Rag’N’Bone Man and Grace Jones, says the middle tier of shows is being squeezed by the bottleneck of live events.

“Hot things are selling and some of the new things are selling, but the middle stuff is proving problematic,” says Hardee, speaking in the latest issue of IQ Magazine.

“Stuff that’s been around a bit and maybe not having reactive records, that’s where the squeeze is. That’s always been where the squeeze is, it’s just more accentuated at the moment because there is so much stuff out there. There is a lot of touring going into next year so there’ll be a few misses, I think.”

Hardee, who discusses Gallagher’s forthcoming return to Knebworth here, was gearing up for a quiet start to 2022 even before concerns over the Omicron variant threatened to complicate matters further.

Everyone has announced and gone on sale further in advance

“A long time ago, we said to leave all our tours in Europe to April/May and miss the winter out, and that probably was the right move,” he says. “We hardly have anything going out in January and February apart from one-offs, but no European touring.

“We’re definitely further ahead of booking ’22 than we would be at this point in a normal year, because most of ’22 is all booked. Everyone has announced and gone on sale further in advance so there are a lot less slots left for festivals than there would normally be at this stage.

“The tours are all booked, all avails were held, so there isn’t much left to do for ’22 now, so ’23 will start. I don’t think they’re going to necessarily start looking at ’23 festivals that early, but they’re starting to talk about the headliners.”

Asked about the likely impact the shortage of slots will have on emerging bands, Hardee adds: “There’s a myth that if you go on at a festival, you’re going to play in front of someone. You’re not going to play in front of someone unless people want to see you. It’s not like the old days where people would just wander around, everyone knows everything [now].

“For newer acts, it probably takes a year before you get to a point where you’re ready to play festivals. You need to build your streaming, your tickets and your worth up before you get on them.

“You shouldn’t be obsessed by playing a festival for the sake of it; you’ve got to be obsessed with playing the festival at the right time, when it’s going to enhance your career.”

 


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