FKP Scorpio MD: ‘We’re proud about our comeback’
FKP Scorpio MD Stephan Thanscheidt has given his verdict on this year’s festival season following the sell-out success of Germany’s Southside and Hurricane events.
Held from 17-19 June, the twin events were topped by Kings of Leon, Rise Against, Seeed, Martin Garrix, The Killers, Deichkind, Twenty One Pilots and KIZ.
The events return to Neuhausen ob Eck (Southside) and the Eichenring motorcycle speedway in Scheessel (Hurricane) from 16-18 June 2023.
In addition, FKP joined forces with DreamHaus and Loft Concerts to launch brand new open-air festival Tempelhof Sounds in Berlin earlier this month on the grounds of Tempelhof Airport – where the Berlin Festival once took place, and the German Lollapalooza Festival launched in 2015. Tempelhof Sounds was headlined by Florence + The Machine, Muse and The Strokes.
As FKP’s head of festival booking, Hamburg-based Thanscheidt is responsible for a programme of over 25 festivals across Europe. The company’s festival repertoire also includes Highfield, M’era Luna, Rolling Stone Beach, Metal Hammer Paradise, A Summer’s Tale, Plage Noire and Deichbrand.
On the international side, FKP Scorpio hosts Provinssi (FI), Sideways (FI), Greenfield (CH), Gården (SWE), Indian Summer (NL), Best Kept Secret (NL), Tuckerville (NL) and Aairport (DK), among others.
Here, in a quickfire Q&A with IQ, he reflects on the 2022 season so far and shares his hopes and fears for the wider market…
“We are facing the same challenges as everyone else, most notably a shortage of qualified personnel and a significant increase of expenses”
How pleased were you with the response to this year’s Southside and Hurricane festivals?
“We’re more than pleased with this year’s instalments of our flagship festivals. Both were sold out and all 150,000 attendees had a great time. That’s not taken for granted given the difficult circumstances our industry still finds itself in. The presale for both events has already started and is shaping up to be very dynamic. It’s also worth noting that we were very successful with a festival premiere this year: Tempelhof Sounds took place in Berlin the weekend before Hurricane and Southside and sold well over 40,000 tickets, surpassing even our expectations.”
What were the biggest challenges in the run-up to the events?
“We were facing the same challenges as everyone else, most notably a shortage of qualified personnel and a significant increase of expenses. A lot of people, for example in lighting, sound, planning or other areas, aren’t working in the sector anymore – with corona naturally being the main cause for this. The high inflation caused by the pandemic and the horrible war in Ukraine are additionally contributing to the issues we’re facing in production of live events today. It really shows in the light of recent developments that our big network of skilled labour in the value chain is a tremendous asset to have.”
How is the rest of your year shaping up?
“We’re proud about our comeback from the pandemic. In addition to the aforementioned, our European festivals, Deichbrand, M’era Luna and Highfield are just around the corner. Apart from the festival sector we’re promoting shows of the likes of The Rolling Stones and Ed Sheeran or new concepts like The Masked Singer. It’s not a given to not only get back into business after two years of break, but also bringing new ideas to the market.”
“Although we’re managing quite well, the live sector does not yet stand firmly on its own feet like it used to”
How is this year’s festival’s season going in Germany overall?
“The before-mentioned problems have caused some festivals to cancel – luckily not for us. One festival had to be stopped on its second day recently due to a lack of security personnel. Additionally, a lot of festivals had to cancel because the ticket sales did not go so well. Combined with the rising costs of producing live events, the risk of failure is bigger than ever.”
What are your biggest hopes and expectations for the market now moving forward?
“I would simply hope for more stability for the whole industry. Although we’re managing quite well, the live sector does not yet stand firmly on its own feet like it used to. At the same time, I’m positive that this will gradually change once the bulk of postponed events finally took place and the economic situation is more stable. What we’re still sure about is this: People love to experience live music, maybe more than ever – no amount of uncertainty will ever change this.”
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Festival chiefs preview the upcoming season
The cost of living crisis, an oversaturated market and rising costs threaten to create a “recipe for disaster” for the first full festival season since 2019, it has been claimed.
ILMC’s Festival Forum: New lands, new adventures panel heard divergent views from event bosses on prospects for this summer, with the public’s appetite for returning to music shows evident, but two years of lockdown and restrictions throwing up a litany of new problems.
UTA agent Beth Morton moderated the illuminating debate starring Eric van Eerdenburg of Mojo Concerts (NL), Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts (UK), Sophie Lobl of C3 Presents (US), Henrik Bondo Nielsen of Roskilde Festival (DK), Stephan Thanscheidt of FKP Scorpio (DE) and Reshad Hossenally of Festicket’s Event Genius ticketing and event technology platform.
Event Genius COO Hossenally said that, despite the anticipated rush for concert tickets after two lost years to Covid-19, other issues were cropping up.
“People don’t trust that everything is back to normal yet”
“There are a hell of a lot of shows and it’s almost a bit of a recipe for disaster because you’ve got costs going up, a lot of tickets being carried across and a huge amount of competition,” he said. “The other part is people are being told they don’t have any money in the press. I think you’ll see the buying pattern starting to become a lot later. People don’t trust that everything is back to normal yet.
“We ran a global survey and 75% of people said that they want to understand what the cancellation policies are. Before, that would have been an impulse buy – people didn’t even look at terms and conditions beforehand. The decision of buying a festival ticket now is a lot more considered. So as a festival promoter, I suspect it must be quite a scary road to see that we’re not selling as quickly.”
Roskilde head of safety and service Bondo Nielsen referenced complaints from some of his European contemporaries regarding fan behaviour since the restart, with the pandemic resulting in a lag in younger consumers attending their first festival.
“What I hear is that people talk about inexperienced audience and that they are not behaving well,” he said. “My view is that, as a festival organiser, it’s your job to manage the audience that you invite. So if they don’t behave well, you have to teach them.”
“Costs are going up at least 25% from 2019 prices”
Ellis, who heads up events such as Scotland’s Transmt, responded: “You’ve got gig veterans, and then you always get new people coming in – 16 to 17-year-olds coming along for the first time – and I think they get carried along and looked after by the older members of the audience a bit. It is a real community spirit that you get, no matter what the festival is. They’re all there for the same purpose: to enjoy music, and the shared experience of being at an event.”
Ellis considered increasing costs, exacerbated by supply chain and staffing issues, as the biggest challenge for festivals going forward.
“Certainly in the UK, costs are going up at least 25% from 2019 prices, which is really difficult,” he said. “And it’s the scarcity of kit as well, so stages, barriers – we’re having to beg, borrow and steal barriers from different arenas, because there are so many shows on. There are shows that have moved from 2020, and didn’t happen in ’21, all happening, plus the festivals, plus the outdoor business that would have taken place in ’22.
“Also, staff – lots of stewards left the industry during the pandemic. Toilets, again, lots of sporting events are taking certainly the high end toilets, maybe not the actual portaloos but the flushable toilets and trailers, so that’s a real challenge.”
“People have hung on to their tickets for a couple of years, you can’t go back to them and ask for more money”
The promoter added that simply hiking up ticket prices was not an option for this year.
“People have hung on to their tickets for a couple of years, you can’t go back to them and ask for more money,” he said. “And we’re going into a cost of living crisis globally, with people having concerns about how they’re going to pay their energy bills and everything else. So some of it will have to be passed on going forward, but it’s too late for this year.
“I think we all have to try our best to get costs down and look at innovative ways of delivering things as well. We need suppliers to give us a bit of a break really.
“The positive thing is there was a recent survey in America showing what people are looking forward to getting back to most, and concerts was top of the list, so that’s reassuring. Obviously we’re all worried about how they’re going to afford to do it, but at least they want to go to concerts.”
“There are so many artists, coming out of Covid, that haven’t done a hard ticket tour”
The conversation later switched to social media’s influence on programming and its correlation to ticket sales.
“There is so much that we have to take into account that’s not just ticket sales,” revealed C3 and Live Nation global festival talent buyer Lobl. “Obviously socials, obviously TikTok, but the show we’re booking kind of determines what we look at.”
She continued: “There are so many artists, coming out of Covid, that haven’t done a hard ticket tour. If you take someone like Doja Cat, who has been one of our biggest artists at all of our festivals, and probably had the biggest crowd at Austin City Limits and in South America, hasn’t done her own hard ticket run yet.
“It’s also a lot more global now, which makes it more fun. But it also makes it a lot harder to navigate. For us, the Latin market has been huge and there’s a lot more global booking of really sizeable bands.”
“We have also analysing tools for social media,” noted FKP head of festival booking Thanscheidt. “You also have to do look at where are the likes and plays are coming from because if they’re coming from another part of the world, it’s nice for the band, but maybe not for us putting on a festival or a show with them. Also, not every Tiktok hype translates to the festivals we book.
“In general, you don’t want to go away from the history of the festival. But you also want to keep it modern and fresh and cool at the same time. In the end, booking is a process. It is, of course, influenced by other things nowadays, but it’s still a mixture of very different facts coming together.
“It also really depends on the festival – because if you have an older audience, TikTok and all that does not play the biggest role and vice-versa, so you have to look at it very individually to make the right decisions. You have to know your market and your audiences because sometimes it’s hard to explain, especially to agents, why this act is working and the other one is not.”
“It’s not an exact science and it never has been”
Van Eerdenberg, director of Netherlands’ Lowlands festival, shared his own booking philosophy.
“We had discussions in our programming team about this, and we ended up saying quality is not the thing we measure, but whether people are reacting and responding to it,” he said. “You have to work with what you see happening online. But it’s difficult to determine the value of an act, especially when agents are very convincing.”
Ellis pointed out that hard ticket sales were not always a barometer of an artist’s value to a festival because their audience might steer away from outdoor shows.
“It’s not an exact science and it never has been,” he added. “It’s always been a bit of gut feel, a bit of scarcity – if somebody’s not doing shows they’re more valuable to a festival than if they are doing shows because there’s a pent up demand to see them.
“Over the years at T in the Park, an act like Tom Jones went down an absolute storm. His audience wouldn’t have particularly come to a music festival, but… we had 50,000 people in front of the main stage, singing along to him, and none of them had ever seen him before. With that kind of booking, if you tried to look at the TikTok figures, it wouldn’t have synced. There was a gut feel that it would go down well, and it went down well, but sometimes we get those things wrong and nobody’s watching the act.”
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FKP Scorpio Norway hires promoter Tim Salvesen
FKP Scorpio Norway has bolstered its international department with the addition of experienced promoter Tim Salvesen.
Salvesen has six years’ experience as a promoter with All Things Live, having worked with artists such as Dave, Phoebe Bridgers, Mac DeMarco, Jacob Collier, Black Midi, Whitney, Rufus Wainwright, Ezra Collective, Priya Ragu, Clairo, Jimmy Eat World, KSI, Soccer Mommy, Slowthai and Snail Mail.
“FKP Scorpio Norway is continuing to grow, and I’m delighted that my former colleague Tim Salvesen has decided to join us,” says head promoter Stian Pride. “I have been really impressed by how quickly he’s developed as a promoter, and I’m confident that our office is the perfect place for him to take further strides forward.
“Tim has always been on the front foot when it comes to discovering, working with, and developing emerging talent. This is central to how we work at FKP Scorpio, and we’re certain that Tim will be a perfect fit here – professionally, but also on a human level.”
“His talent to discover and develop new artists and his personality as a promoter fit well into our company ethics and values”
International artists promoted by FKP Scorpio Norway include Bon Iver, Band of Horses, Hans Zimmer, The National, Big Thief, Tash Sultana, Snoop Dogg, Fontaines DC, Daniel Nogren, Sparks, Nils Frahm, Colter Wall, Shame and Weyes Blood.
“I am very happy to welcome Tim in the FKP Scorpio team,” adds Folkert Koopmans, CEO of FKP Scorpio Group and winner of Festival Organiser’s Organiser at last week’s 2022 Arthur Awards. “His talent to discover and develop new artists and his personality as a promoter fit well into our company ethics and values. Also, Tim and his artist roster are a valuable addition to our international booking team.”
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20 years of Finland’s Fullsteam Agency
From humble beginnings come great things. That’s certainly how it has panned out for Finland’s Fullsteam, a group of music companies that now encompasses a record label, management services, a booking agency, event organising, and publishing.
Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, it started out like many music industry endeavours – as a hobby for music lover Rauha Kyyrö. “I was still in high school, and I never thought it would become my profession,” she recalls. “My plan was to go and study law! But then music happened…”
Tobbe Lorentz of United Talent, one of the first agents she started to work with professionally, can certainly recall her passion. “My first memory is when Rauha turned up at my home, unannounced, and I opened the door to see this unknown kid with dreads and piercings asking to book my bands,” he says. “I believe my response was: ‘Of course you can. Now go away.’ But I booked Turbonegro with her the week after, and we’ve been working together ever since.”
Booking bands was something that, by then, Kyyrö was already adept at. She started out playing in a band but was, by her own admission, “never the best or most talented musician.” But she had smarts and determination – “I was great at getting things done,” she says.
Booking shows, promotion, logistics, and taking care of releases became her domain, and she came up with a novel way of getting her own band shows abroad.
“We did everything ourselves – book the shows, sell merch, release records, and do the PR”
“The easiest way to do that was to book shows in Finland for a Swedish or German band in exchange for getting to play with them in their home countries,” she recalls. “That’s how I first got into the business of booking shows internationally.” Her abilities earned her the nickname “Fixare” (The Fixer) – and she soon found herself dealing with agents who had got her contact details from their artists who had friends in bands she had promoted.
To do things officially and pay taxes, she started her first company Sitruunamaailma (which translates as ‘the world of lemons’) with two friends, and then things really took off. “I started promoting the first ‘bigger’ shows – those with a 900 capacity – and also my first outdoor summer festival,” she says. Bear in mind, this was all before she even left high school – “prodigious” doesn’t even come close.
Yet the financial realities of promoting and booking were somewhat harsh – in the early years, it remained very much a hobby. “I was doing all this while working in a record shop in Helsinki,” she says. Even after starting Fullsteam proper in 2002 – it began life as a record label, Fullsteam Records, and was a subsidiary of her previous company, Sitruunamaailma – her ambitions were modest.
“The idea was just to release music for great bands that couldn’t get their music out on the existing labels. And I guess it felt great to have a record label.”
Releasing music was just the start. Kyyrö soon realised there were many things she could do to help her own and friends’ bands, and so the other aspects of Fullsteam began to grow organically. “We did everything ourselves – book the shows, sell merch, release records, and do the PR. We also had a rehearsal room centre with 50 rooms, so we basically just did whatever we wanted […] for our own and our friends’ bands. It was always some kind of a 360 ̊ model, but as the business grew and things got more professional, it was necessary to have different companies for different parts of the business.”
James Rubin of WME recalls [Kyyrö] being “exceptional in problem-solving and career-building”
Kyyrö admits that it wasn’t until 2004 that she actually got paid for booking shows, when she went to work for Welldone – now Live Nation Finland – for two years. The other Fullsteam
companies continued during that time, and on leaving Welldone in 2006, she founded Fullsteam Agency. “That was the first time I started to get paid from my own company,” she says.
Those early years were characterised by a can-do work ethic and DIY spirit, traits that continue to this day and endeared Kyyrö to all those who worked with her in the beginning. Kalle Lundgren Smith of international booking agent Pitch and Smith recalls booking tours with her back in 2000, when she was still running Sitruunamaailma, and being “so impressed with her professionalism. My hardcore band was used to dealing with promoters on a very DIY level, so this was very different. We were even offered accommodation on top of the fees, which seemed like an absolute luxury to us.”
Before they met in real life, Lundgren Smith assumed she was a seasoned pro. “I was picturing someone far older in my mind. Then, when we finally met in Helsinki, it was this very young punk rock kid with long dreadlocks. We’ve been working closely together ever since.”
Many others express similar sentiments, and it’s a testament to Kyyrö and the company she’s built that so many peers remain friends and colleagues 20 years later. James Rubin of WME, who began working with her 15 years ago through Bad Taste, a Swedish management company and promoter, recalls her being “exceptional in problem-solving and career-building. She always helped with any issues my clients had.”
Paulina Ahokas, managing director of Tampere Hall, remembers being so impressed by Kyyrö’s dogged determination that she badgered colleagues at Music Export Finland to bring her along on an export mission to Japan.
“All of the Fullsteam companies work together on some level, but we don’t work in the ‘traditional’ 360 ̊ way”
“Rauha was spot-on at every single panel discussion in Tokyo,” says Ahokas. “After the panels, I asked if she needed some help with meetings. She did not. She had a list of names and addresses, a map of Tokyo, and a bicycle – she cycled to the meetings she had sourced herself. I’d been to Japan at least three times, yet knew only half of the companies on her list. I told everyone at Music Export Finland that we would be hearing a lot more from this rasta-haired dynamo, and damn, I was right.”
And it’s not just in a professional capacity that Kyyrö won people overtaking the “work hard, play hard” mantra to heart, she’s had plenty of fun, too. “I first met Rauha at a showcase festival in Canada,” says Julia Gudzent, co-founder of Misc Berlin, an agency for cultural change. “We immediately got along really well, and together with Mikko Niemelä from Ruisrock and Nina Howden from Silver Circle Distillery, we founded a synchronised swimming group in the hotel pool. We had the time of our lives and all became best friends right away.”
Since 2006, Fullsteam has continued to grow organically, a slow and steady rise governed by one clear principle – serve the artist. Today, Fullsteam Agency – “by far the biggest company [in the group],” says Kyyrö – serves as a booking agency and event organiser, booking domestic performers into every venue in Finland and bringing international artists to the country (to date, Fullsteam has promoted over 2,000 international acts).
They also organise Seinäjoki’s Provinssi Festival and Helsinki’s own Sideways Festival. On top of this, they represent around 100 Finnish performers, both popular acts and rising talent, and Fullsteam group now includes management, publishing, and record label interests. But while the businesses are deeply integrated, Fullsteam is not your typical 360 ̊ company.
“All of the Fullsteam companies work together on some level, but we don’t work in the ‘traditional’ 360 ̊ way,” says Kyyrö. “We hope to work with all the music companies in Finland, so we do not push for 360 ̊ deals. They only make sense if it makes sense for the artist and everyone else involved, and to be honest, in most cases it actually doesn’t work that well to have ‘all your eggs in one basket’. But when it does work, it can be really fantastic – we have good examples of that.”
Fullsteam Agency is now co-owned by European promoter giant FKP Scorpio, following a merger in 2014
Fullsteam group’s smaller companies remain 100% owned by Kyyrö, and she’s involved in various other businesses, albeit in smaller roles. But Fullsteam Agency is now co-owned by European promoter giant FKP Scorpio, following a merger in 2014.
The deal, says Kyyrö, “Helped us to really enter the festival market and to become more professional in many different ways.” But it wasn’t driven by finances or a desire to wield more clout. “I just really liked the people at FKP Scorpio: simple as that,” she says. “I thought they would support our team in our ambitions to grow but also let us be who we are and work the way we do. They are good, kind people – I appreciate that a lot.”
That added professionalism has manifested itself in various ways. Fullsteam has, says Kyyrö, become a better employer and partner for artists and clients. Her colleagues agree. “The best part of working as a promoter at Fullsteam is probably the creative freedom that you have; we’re not tied to one or two or even three genres but work with everything that we believe has value – be it money or something else,” comments staffer Artemi Remes.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not the case with every big agency in the world. And for me, that’s really the greatest thing as it makes every workday and every concert special. Never a dull day!” Remes says it’s difficult to pick just one highlight from more than 1,000 shows he has promoted over the past 16 years. “But pressed, I’d probably choose the Ennio Morricone concert in Helsinki in 2016. That exceeded all levels of specialness and is one that I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life.”
Summing up the employee experience at Fullsteam, fellow promoter Aino-Maria Paasivirta says, “The great part of working at Fullsteam is that I get to work with so many different kinds of artists – I promote everything from small club shows to arenas and festivals and many different genres, which keeps the job interesting.” Asked to share her career highlights, to date, Paasivirta states, “Nick Cave’s sold-out shows on the Conversations tour was definitely an amazing experience.”
“We have a team that’s capable of anything”
She adds, “I’m very much looking forward to the business finally opening again and the festival summer 2022 and I’m, of course, especially looking forward to Provinssi. Our last editions have been great, and I’m very proud to be in the booking team. Everyone knows working with music is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle, and I can’t imagine a better community to do it with than Fullsteam.”
It hasn’t always been plain sailing, however, and Kyyrö admits to having struggled with “how competitive and mean this business can be sometimes.” Yet she has remained optimistic and never lost her passion. “I’ve always loved being part of this community and feel that I am actually really good at this thing they call the music business.”
Modestly, she feels the company has only recently properly “arrived” and achieved lasting success. “The first time I felt that wasn’t until the end of 2019, after we’d promoted three historic events in Finland within a year – Ed Sheeran in Helsinki in July 2019, Rammstein in Tampere in August 2019, and Cheek in Lahti in August 2018. We’d also succeeded in bringing Provinssi Festival back to the top. None of those things were on my bucket list, they just happened when the time was right – or when we were ready for it.”
That’s a view shared by Fullsteam Agency managing director Tuomo Tähtinen, who believes that the platform the company has built means the best is yet to come. “Fullsteam has already come incredibly far, yet there’s still so much potential,” Tähtinen tells IQ. “We have a team that’s capable of anything. And we all know that success shouldn’t be pursued at any cost, but we need to build for the future sustainably and with respect to everyone around us.”
Recently, Fullsteam’s formal successes have been numerous. They are now Finland’s biggest, most important concert promoter and booking agency, for both alternative music and global superstars. Fullsteam Records has won Independent Label of the Year a total of six times and remains a champion and supporter of new, exciting, and unique Finnish music. And, perhaps most impressively of all, Fullsteam scooped a total of seven awards at 2019’s Music & Media Industry Awards Gala, including Booking Agency of the Year, Concert of the Year, and numerous accolades for individual staff.
“I’ve always loved being part of this community and feel that I am actually really good at music business.”
So, what’s the secret, then? What has made Fullsteam such a successful company and given them – and Kyyrö – two decades of growth, excellence, and a stellar reputation? The accolades are numerous. “They are music fans first and foremost,” says Geoff Meall of Paradigm Talent Agency. “The first correspondence is always about them wanting to work with the band or act because they like them. In a world of expanding corporatisation, I’ll always have time for companies like Fullsteam.”
Kalle Lundgren Smith agrees. “Fullsteam has a very loyal and strong team. It’s like a nice big family of true music lovers with an open and welcoming mindset. I think Rauha’s single-mindedness and creative mind – combined with her amazing staff – brought them this far.”
Tobbe Lorentz says that it’s “hard work, a great team, having their finger on the pulse, and good timing,” that’s made them so successful; Julia Gudzent agrees. “What makes Fullsteam and Rauha so special is that they do their work with complete passion, but unlike a lot of other people in the industry, they also take care of themselves and don’t forget to live and celebrate their wins. And that makes them so much better at their job.”
James Rubin says their “dedication to personal attention, being artist-friendly, and sheer excellence in everything they do has been nothing short of exceptional,” while Xenia Grigat of Danish promoter Smash!Bang!Pow! adds that there’s a “special DNA that defines Fullsteam, and it seems like a workplace that is inclusive and sees the full potential in the team. That’s inspiring, and attracts talented staff and artists.”
For Paulina Ahokas, one of the many who’ve worked with Kyyrö since the very beginning, there are three main reasons behind Fullsteam’s continued rise. “Every single person in the company has the same attitude, the need and desire to excel. Every person is willing to work harder than anyone else. And every single person in the company knows how to party! I have no idea if this is the recruitment strategy, but I know it has worked.”
“And every single person in the company knows how to party!”
And the view internally, from new partner FKP Scorpio, is just as effusive. CEO Stephan Thanscheidt credits their “friendship, loyalty, creativity, attitude, professionality, and a great taste in arts and music,” qualities he says you feel at every single Fullsteam show or event. “Their team, in combination with their family values, is hard to beat. They have an extraordinary spirit; creative and professional entrepreneurship; a great social and political attitude; and good relations with loads of talented artists.”
Certainly, their legacy seems assured. They’ve brought a lot of live music to Finland that the country might not have been able to enjoy otherwise, from the likes of Disco Ensemble, early emo bands, many Nordic artists, and numerous international superstars. They have blazed a trail for diversity and inclusivity and redefined what a group of music companies – both working together and in separate fields – can achieve on behalf of their artists.
Ultimately, that might be the single biggest factor behind Fullsteam’s success – it really is all about the music and the people who make it happen. One anecdote in particular, from Julia Gudzent, encapsulates this attitude perfectly. “I went to the Finnish music awards show once, and Fullsteam won all the prizes. Rauha took her whole team up on stage because she knew that it was not only her prize, but the whole team that won it. That impressed me so much because I’d never seen this kind of leadership before. I’ve not met a lot of people in the industry who do their job with so much modesty, kindness, and team spirit.”
What then of the future? What focus, hopes, and dreams does Kyyrö have for Fullsteam for the years ahead? “I really would like us to be the best place to work at and best partner for the people we work with,” she says. “If we succeed in that we will always be successful. We have truly amazing people working for Fullsteam and close to us, and I truly hope they will stick around, keep up with the shit in the business and shape the company and the music industry to become a better and more inclusive place for everyone.”
So we’ll be back here in another 20 years, with Fullsteam continuing to go from strength to strength? “I am sure we’ll continue to have many victories, but there are also challenging times ahead of us. I think that at the end of the day, a business like ours is just a bunch of people working together, and I hope there is room for life to happen and for people to grow and pursue their dreams at Fullsteam.”
Live music business remembers Taylor Hawkins
Foo Fighters star Taylor Hawkins has been remembered by the international live music world following his death aged 50.
The Texan drummer died on Friday (25 March) at a hotel in Bogota, Colombia, where the band had been due to headline Festival Estereo Picnic. His cause of death has not yet been established.
The band, whose remaining South American tour date at Lollapalooza Brazil in Sao Paulo was also cancelled, released a statement speaking of their devastation. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” they said.
Chris York, director of Foo Fighters’ longtime UK promoter SJM Concerts, is among the many touring execs to pay tribute.
“I share with my colleagues at SJM Concerts the deepest sadness at the tragic death of Taylor,” he tells IQ. “Over the last 25 years we have helped share the Foo Fighters’ global success. Taylor’s extraordinary musicianship, tremendous character and huge warmth was writ large. He was a force of nature.
“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and bandmates at this time of unimaginable loss.”
Live Nation mourned the loss of “one of rock music’s greatest drummers”. “Our hearts go out to his family, the band, and fans around the world as we all mourn this heartbreaking loss,” the company tweeted.
“We are grateful for all the unforgettable concert moments he gave us”
Hawkins, who also performed and recorded with his Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders side project, was a touring drummer for artists such as Alanis Morissette prior to joining the Foos in 1997.
Australia’s Frontier Touring writes: “Vale Taylor Hawkins. Our hearts are breaking for his family and friends,” while FKP Scorpio, whose relationship with the band dates back quarter of a century, says it is “shocked and saddened”.
“We are grateful for all the unforgettable concert moments he gave us: his drum solos and singing instruments, his humour and his laughter,” it says on Facebook. “Thank you for the music, Taylor! Now you can play the beat in the big band of Freddie Mercury, John Bonham and all the other genius musicians who have already gone ahead. The memory remains for us. Our thoughts are with Taylor’s family, his friends, companions and of course the band and crew.”
In a lengthy tribute, concert series Austin City Limits, which has hosted the Foo Fighters on two previous occasions, says Hawkins “radiated enthusiasm and pure rock & roll energy”.
“We were looking forward to seeing him again when the band returned for their next taping,” it says. “But mostly we’re sending our thoughts and love out to his family and his bandmates, and we’re mourning our friend. May he rest in peace.”
Swiss promoter Good News Production posts: “We’re still a little blown away by the news from last Saturday’s tragic and far too early death of Taylor Hawkins. Over the years, we were allowed to accompany the Foo Fighters on several occasions, not least in summer 2018 at their show at the Stade de Suisse in Bern.
“Taylor’s open, vivid and cheerful style was not only on stage incredibly contagious and we will always remember him as the wonderful person and outstanding musician he was.”
The firm acknowledged the “uncertainty” over the group’s remaining 2022 concerts and says it will update fans in “due time”.
Foo Fighters have North American dates scheduled for April/May, with European festival and stadium shows lined up for the summer. The tour is then slated to return to the US before heading to Australia and concluding in New Zealand in December.
FKP Scorpio launches show production division
FKP Scorpio has launched a new company specialising in musicals, shows and family entertainment.
FKP Show Creations, has confirmed a live adaptation of the hit TV show The Masked Singer as its first project, which will tour 13 arenas across Germany. Other productions are set to include Paw Patrol Live and Dita van Teese’s Glamonatrix.
The firm will be managed by Jasper Barendregt, formerly director of festival production at FKP Scorpio, alongside CEO Folkert Koopmans.
“This long-planned start-up allows us to explore new and exciting avenues”
“This long-planned start-up allows us to explore new and exciting avenues,” says Barendregt. “I am very much looking forward to the challenges ahead, even though I will miss the festival business after twelve exciting and fulfilling years.”
Barendregt’s previous role will be taken over by Benjamin Hetzer, who has worked in festival production for FKP since 2012. As event manager, he has overseen events such as Southside, Highfield and A Summer’s Tale since 2015 and is also responsible for the new Tempelhof Sounds festival in Berlin.
“I am very excited about my new task and would especially like to thank our team, which has also shown consistency in the past years of the pandemic and does a great job in every situation,” says Hetzer. “I am proud and grateful to work with this team to plan our festivals again in the future.”
Unprecedented number of new fests to launch in ’22
FKP Scorpio is the latest promoter to add to an unprecedented number of new festivals launching this season.
The CTS Eventim-backed promoter today announced a trio of new festivals, set to take place in Sweden, Norway and Denmark during the second weekend in June.
Rosendal Garden Party (SE) will take place on the Djurgården island in Stockholm, with headliners The Strokes, Florence + The Machine, The National and Tyler, The Creator.
Loaded (NO) will see up to 7,000 people watch artists such as Wilco, Sharon Van Etten and Susan Sundfør at the Vulkan Openair Amphitheatre in Nedre Foss, Oslo.
The German powerhouse is also gearing up to launch a new open-air festival in Berlin called Tempelhof Sounds, in collaboration with Dreamhaus and Loft Concerts.
FKP isn’t the only live music behemoth set to expand its stable of events this year. Fellow German promoter Goodlive will finally launch its new Munich-based event Superbloom, after two pandemic-related postponements.
FKP Scorpio announced a trio of new festivals, set to take place in Sweden, Norway and Denmark
In the UK, AEG and Team Love are launching a new 30,000-capacity metropolitan festival, Forwards, in Bristol. Kilimanjaro is planning a new “indie and alternative sounds” festival in Norwich called Neck of the Woods. And Festival Republic is adding to its triple bill of August bank holiday festivals with Electric City.
Elsewhere in Europe, Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter have joined forces to launch Core, a new two-day festival in Brussels. While, Last Tour, the Spanish festival organiser and concert promoter behind Bilbao BBK Live, has announced not one but two new European fests – Cala Mijas in Spain and Kalorama in Portugal.
Meanwhile, the US festival calendar has gained a pair of reggaeton festivals with Goldenvoice’s California Vibrations, and Sueños Music Festival (Dreams Music Festival) from the producers behind Baja Beach Fest, Chicago’s Reventon Promotions, and Lollapalooza.
Alongside these brand new events, a raft of longstanding festivals are branching out to new markets. Primavera Sound, which already holds events in Barcelona and Porto, is shipping its brand to Los Angeles (US), Sao Paulo (BR), Santiago (CL) and Buenos Aires (AR) in 2022. While Sonar and Rolling Loud are each taking their tried-and-tested formulas to Portugal this year.
Elsewhere in the 2022 festival calendar, a crop of new indie events are putting a spin on the traditional greenfield affair. In It Together (UK) is encouraging festivalgoers to bring their grandparents for free, Velio Festival (UK) is reinventing the wheel with its cycling format, and Barley Arts’ Comfort (IT) is offering fans a more relaxing festival experience.
Meanwhile, some new festivals are ditching the greenfield blueprint altogether. 8 festival (LT) is scheduled to take place in a former 20th-century prison while Hammership will draw metal fans to the high seas.
Euro festival bosses size up the ’22 season
European festival chiefs shared their optimism for the summer season, while warning of the challenges ahead on the opening day of ESNS (European Noorderslag).
For the second consecutive year, the European festival and conference in Groningen, Netherlands, has moved entirely online in response to the government’s latest Covid-19 measures.
A standout panel for day one focused on this year’s festival season, and featured Yourope’s Christof Huber, along with FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt, Codruta Vulcu of Romania’s ARTmania and Paul Reed from the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).
Huber, who is booker and festival director of Switzerland’s OpenAir St Gallen, said the ’22 schedule was starting to look more promising following some difficult weeks.
“I don’t see any point why bigger events in the summer time – let’s say from May to September – shouldn’t take place,” he said. “Despite the fact that it was a quite a difficult situation over Christmas, etc, I think it’s promising. I think everybody’s quite confident that the summer will be there and also, that most of the governments react differently than they did a year before.”
“We’re facing enormous costs”
Huber said that ticket sales were “solid” but had slowed down over the past couple of months, amid the emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
“Right now, it’s important to show the confidence that [the 2022 festival is] happening,” he added.
However, Thanscheidt pointed out the return would not be straightforward, with additional costs due to Covid and other factors, along with the damage the pandemic had caused to the supply chain.
“Not everybody who worked in our industry… is there anymore,” he said. “Also, prices have gone up drastically in all kinds of production parts. And we’re facing a lot of challenges because, as we postponed the festivals two times, the ticket prices were based on everything we calculated in the second half of 2019. Now, we’re facing enormous costs.”
FKP’s festival portfolio includes events such as Southside and Hurricane in Germany, but Thanscheidt said that raising ticket prices was not an option as most of the ticket-holders had been holding their tickets over since 2020.
“It will be a challenging year, but it will also be a creative year”
Reed said he was confident consumer confidence would come back as restrictions are eased (UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced today that England’s plan B measures would be lifted next week).
” I think there will be that appetite for experiences,” he said. “The whole planning cycle has been shifted by this: announcements have been earlier than ever and some festivals have artists rolled over from previous years. It makes it a bit more challenging for them to market a line-up that has already been announced and is out there. And I think competition is going to be fierce.
“To come back to supply chain, that all puts a lot of pressure on inventory and infrastructure, particularly on the smaller organisations that don’t have the bargaining power or the leverage with that. The supply chain was in disarray last year and I don’t think it will self correct for this year.
“There’s no clear solution, really: it’s loss of companies, it’s loss of skills and you throw issues around Brexit into the mix and you’re potentially facing a bit of a perfect storm. But I do think that the audience confidence will be there and we’ll have more activity than ever, but it is going to be challenging.”
Vulcu referenced concerns over market oversaturation, bringing up the situation in Romania last year.
“At this point, there are so many shows, huge shows, on sale for 2022… it will be impossible for the audience to have enough money to go to every show there is and I believe that many people will lose a lot of money,” she said. “Last summer you could only have smaller events in in Romania so you had practically every single Romanian band play every single city and venue. Bands that normally would have sold maybe 1,000 or 2,000 tickets sold only 300 to 400 because there were so many acts. It was a disaster, almost every single ticket paying event in Romania lost money.”
Due to the Covid shutdown of 2020 and ’21, Thanscheidt suggested two-and-a-half years of shows were having to be squeezed into the next eight months.
“It will be a challenging year,” he said. “But it will also be a creative year, and will also be a year where we all go back to work again. And so even if you face all these problems, I am very positive and very happy to finally start booking things again and running festivals and tours again. So I’m generally positive.”
ESNS runs until Saturday (22 January). Tickets are still available here.
The New Bosses: Remembering the class of 2021
The 14th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses celebrated the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.
The New Bosses 2021 honoured no fewer than a dozen young executives, as voted by their colleagues around the world.
The 14th edition of the annual list inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations.
The year’s distinguished dozen comprises promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs and more, all involved in the international business and each of whom is making a real difference in their respective sector.
In alphabetical order, the New Bosses 2021 are:
- Talissa Buhl, festival booker, FKP Scorpio (DE). Full profile here.
- Jenna Dooling, agent, WME (UK). Full profile here.
- Emma Greco, promoter, AEG Presents (FR). Full profile here.
- Paris Harding, promoter, SJM (UK). Full profile here.
- Tessie Lammle, agent, UTA (US). Full profile here.
- Will Marshall, agent, Primary Talent/ICM Partners (UK). Full profile here.
- Arjun Mehta, founder & CEO, Moment House (US). Full profile here.
- Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant, Paradigm (UK). Full profile here.
- Anna Parry, programming manager, the O2 (UK). Full profile here.
- Theo Quiblier, head of concerts, Two Gentlemen (CH). Full profile here.
- Dan Roberts, promoter, Live Nation (UK). Full profile here.
- Age Versluis, promoter, Friendly Fire (NL). Full profile here.
Subscribers can read full interviews with each of the 2021 New Bosses in issue 103 of IQ Magazine.
Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:
FKP Scorpio and Ed Sheeran triumph over Viagogo again
FKP Scorpio has won an injunction preventing Viagogo from offering ‘worthless’ tickets for Ed Sheeran concerts.
The Hamburg-based concert and festival promoter, which is co-organising Sheeran’s upcoming Mathematics Tour, is using specially developed mobile ticketing technology for all concerts on the tour that makes unauthorised resale impossible.
Tickets can only be purchased through the official provider, Eventim, or its resale platform Fansale. And, since all tickets are personalised and digital-only, it is not possible for them to be resold outside of the Fansale platform.
Subsequently, the district court of Hamburg has banned Switzerland-based Viagogo from offering Ed Sheeran tickets or allowing them to be sold without making it clear that buyers will not be granted entry to the concerts. FKP Scorpio and Ed Sheeran won a similar case against Viagogo in 2019.
“We are pleased about this success in court, which puts further obstacles in the way of unfair business models at the expense of consumers,” says Inga Esseling, promoter at FKP Scorpio.
“[This ruling] puts further obstacles in the way of unfair business models at the expense of consumers”
“In addition to containing such offers, legal steps are also necessary to draw public attention to the issue. This is the only way we can reach and protect fans early enough. FKP Scorpio will continue to be supported by the law firm Schütz Rechtsanwälte from Karlsruhe, which has already successfully taken action against Viagogo several times.”
Attorney Dr Markus Schütz comments: “The transfer within the framework of the applicable rules of the game and at fair prices is not the problem. It becomes problematic when tickets are bought with the intention of making money from the start. One can only advise the fans not to run the risk of buying invalid or counterfeit tickets at exorbitant prices on the black market and especially at Viagogo. We will continue to systematically fight resales at inflated prices.”
Sheeran’s agent Jon Ollier of One Fiinix Live recently said he believes digital-only ticketing is the future. “There is no reason why in a world full of technology, that we can’t lean on technology a little bit more,” he told IQ.
“We hope that this time [the battle against unauthorised resale sites] is going to feel a lot more like it’s all happening in the background. Last time around, it had to play out in the media because no one was listening. But people are listening now, people are aware and at the table, trying to change laws, trying to move things forward,” he said. Read the full interview with Ollier here.