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International Festival Forum 2021 marks a return to form

After 2020’s online-only version, the International Festival Forum (IFF) enjoyed a successful return to a physical event in late September, as more than 600 delegates registered for the event that focuses on booking agents and festivals.

Enthusiasm for IFF was evident at the opening party, hosted by UTA, where many delegates renewed acquaintances with colleagues they had not seen in the flesh since the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March 2020.

With agency partners reporting oversubscribed speed-meetings at their pop-up offices around Camden, the conference element included a number of pre-recorded sessions, covering such topics as Your Next Headliner – Climate Action; Festival Playground – the Future of Music Festivals; Festival Insurance in a Post-Pandemic World; and Counting the Cost of Brexit.

The keynote saw CAA’s Maria May interviewing Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn and FKP Scorpio founder Folkert Koopmans, who delivered an optimistic message about the future of the business.

“[Festival Republic] is starting new festivals in 2022… we’ve got to try and keep up with Folkert”

Both men noted that there had been no dialogue between the live music industry and the government prior to Covid, meaning much of the last 18 months had been spent educating politicians and persuading them to help support the business.

Quizzed by May about what could be done to help emerging talent, given that many festival line-ups have rolled over into 2022, Benn revealed that he would be launching new events next year. “I am starting new festivals in 2022,” he said.”I’ve always got to have at least one because I try to keep up with Folkert. So, we’ve got at least one or two next year, and that will give new talent the opportunity to start getting to play to a bigger audience.”

“When I hear that Melvin is doing two or three new festivals, we might do four,” quipped Koopmans. However, he admitted that staffing was a problem and along with spiralling costs it means there will be some tough choices to make, so establishing any new showcase festivals might have to wait.

But he predicted that not only will the 2022 season go ahead, but “It will be the biggest year ever. And I suppose the next years will just grow. I’m super optimistic.”

“There might not be a complete shutdown, but booking a European tour in February, at the height of flu season, will be a huge risk”

Benn concluded that the industry can also take a lead on sustainability. “Now it feels like everybody is on the same page – artists, managers, promoters, agents, suppliers and fans – and collectively there’s a lot we can do together and that needs to be one of the greatest collaborations that the music industry can continue with.”

Elsewhere, The Agency Business panel examined the recently announced CAA and ICM Partners acquisition, with panellists agreeing that the deal could provide opportunities for independent agencies, while former CAA staffer Jon Ollier admitted to being “fascinated” by the merger, noting that CAA will be determined to preserve the company’s culture.

And it was Ollier, now boss of One Fiinix Live, who shared his belief that one potential outcome of the Covid pandemic may be that the industry will lose its winter season. “There might not be a complete shutdown, but booking a European tour in February, at the height of flu season, will be a huge risk. So why not follow the sun around the globe to mitigate that risk?”

ATC Live head Alex Bruford noted that rebuilding consumer confidence would be a major challenge, while he predicted a more flexible approach to touring where acts may put on a series of arena dates at short notice as market conditions change.

“AEG’s Jim King called out the scandal of guest-list ticketing fall-off, which has been 40% on some shows”

The conference’s opener involved a Therapy Session where delegates shared stories from the past 18 months, alongside plans to rebuild and reopen their various markets for live events.

With Barnaby Harrod (Mercury Wheels) and Claire Courtney (Earth Agency) onstage to represent the different parts of the business, those in the room heard a number of tales, with arguably the most inspiring related by Georg Leitner of GLP, who revealed that Syrian refugees are being recruited by security firms in Germany to help that sector get back to full strength ahead of the 2022 season.

Paradigm’s Clementine Bunel, meanwhile, moderated The Roaring 20s? where she and her guests examined whether the rest of the decade could be a golden era for live music. And while the future could indeed be rosy, multiple challenges were identified, not the least of which will be sharp rises in ticket prices to cover spiralling costs – an issue that Lowlands Festival’s Eric van Eerdenburg warned could prevent young fans from attending.

And noting increased drop-off rates at recent live events throughout Europe, AEG’s Jim King called out the scandal of guest-list ticketing fall-off, which has been 40% on some shows, compared to 10-12% normally. “It’s outrageous,” he blasted.

The afternoon and evening programmes at IFF once again featured some of the hottest emerging talent on the rosters of ITB, Earth Agency, Paradigm, Primary Talent & ICM Partners, Marshall Live, X-ray Touring, and ATC Live, while Music Venue Trust used the occasion to bring down the curtain on their nationwide Revive Live Tour, as well as sponsoring the closing IFF party.


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Benn, Koopmans line up for IFF 2021 keynote

Melvin Benn and Folkert Koopmans, two of Europe’s most successful festival promoters, have been announced for a unique double keynote interview at the International Festival Forum in London in September.

For the IFF Keynote, Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic, and Koopmans, who holds the same role at FKP Scorpio, will be interviewed by Maria May, head of electronic/international at CAA, who’ll quiz the two industry leaders on recent events, what shape the recovery will take and what comes next for the summer scene.

“Expect 60 minutes of deep insight and expertise,” say organisers, “in what is sure to be a standing-room only session” for which early arrival is strongly recommended.

After going online only in 2020, the International Festival Forum will return this September as a physical, non-socially distanced event, complemented by an online pass for delegates who are unable to travel.

The first major live music industry gathering in 18 months, IFF 2021 will kick off with the opening party on Tuesday 28 September and end late on Thursday 30 September. The invitation-only event for music festivals and booking agents will feature the usual mix of showcases, conference sessions, keynotes, pop-up up offices, networking events and more.

The two industry leaders will speak on recent events, what shape the recovery will take and what comes next for the summer scene

The first booking agency partners for IFF 2021 were announced earlier this month, with longstanding supporters United Talent Agency (UTA), X-ray Touring, Paradigm Talent Agency, ATC Live and Primary Talent International/ICM Partners all returning for 2021, while Earth Agency joins as a partner for the first year. All partner agencies will showcase their hottest new artists, festival-ready for 2022.

The provisional schedule for IFF, including details of conference panels, showcases and venues, is now live on the IFF website. Some 800 delegates, including all the major international music festivals and agents, are expected to attend this year’s IFF, which returns to Camden, north London, for the sixth year.

New for this year will be an online element which allows all delegates to watch back every conference session on demand for up to 30 days after the event. For anyone who can’t travel to London, meanwhile, an online-only registration is also available.

Over 120 music festivals have already confirmed their attendance at IFF 2021, with a quarter of tickets sold with nearly three months to go. Discounted summer rate passes for IFF, which include meals, drinks and more, are available now for £315, saving £30 on the late-summer rate. Click here for more info.

 


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IFF puts finishing touches to biggest programme yet

The Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) has announced two Soapbox Sessions panels for the event taking place on 2 and 3 September.

The first 55-minute session will invite five industry experts to deliver quick-fire presentations on a range of specialist topics including agency roster analysis, socially distanced events and mental health.

Soapbox Sessions: Five in 55 will see ROSTR co-founder and CEO, Mark Williamson, present highlights from an analysis of 650+ agency rosters with ROSTR: The Agency World in Numbers.

Deer Shed director and AIF member Kate Webster will deliver a Soapbox Session on Deer Shed Basecamp, the festival’s socially distanced, sold-out camping weekender with AIF presents: Touching Base.

Tim O’Brien – professor at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester (the site of AIF member festival Bluedot) – will reprise a much-loved talk from a previous AIF Festival Congress with AIF presents: Sounds of Space.

Geoff Dixon will present exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months

In Soapbox Session Covid-19: You Are Here, Dr Mark Salter, consultant for global health at Public Health England, will update delegates on the latest international developments in the fight against Covid-19, including the search for a vaccine, as well as how public health authorities are planning for the months ahead.

Finally, Getting Back to Work: The Fan’s Perspective Vivid Interface will hear Geoff Dixon present exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months.

Another new addition to the conference schedule is The Lost Causes, a series of presentations from specialists covering diversity, accessibility, and mental health and welfare.

Attitude Is Everything‘s Gideon Feldman will deliver Accessibility: Building Back Better, Keychange‘s Francine Gorman will present Equality: Representation Matters and festival booker-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton will educate delegates on Mental Health: Minding the Gap.

Today’s announcement follows the news that CAA board member and London co-head Emma Banks, Paradigm’s head of global music, Marty Diamond, and FKP Scorpio MD Folkert Koopmans are joining the conference.

With just over one week to go until iFF, and with passes increasing in price on 1 September, secure your place and save money by registering here. Tickets are still just £50 inc. ALL fees.

 


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Next wave of industry elite announced for iFF

Another round of free-thinkers, ground-breakers, and industry stalwarts has been announced for the Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) in two weeks’ time.

The two-day livestream event, taking place on 2 and 3 September, is expected to host over 400 professionals from festivals and agencies across the globe.

Among the most recent speakers to join the programme is CAA board member and London co-head Emma Banks, Paradigm’s head of global music, Marty Diamond, and FKP Scorpio MD Folkert Koopmans.

The three industry heads will discuss adapting deals, escalating fees and the impact of the “lost year” on ticket pricing during the Ticket Price, Artist Fees and Deals panel, moderated by ILMC head Greg Parmley.

Elsewhere in the iFF schedule, Live Nation Belgium/Rock Werchter CEO Herman Schueremans joins the lineup for The Big Rebuild: Festivals bounce back.

Fullsteam Agency promoter Aino-Maria Paasivirta will chair the Refunds, Deposits & Force Majeure session, with Mojo Concerts’ Kim Bloem joining Sziget Festival CEO Tamás Kádár, Primary Talent partner Peter Elliott, and Glastonbury Festival’s general counsel, Ben Challis, to complete the panel.

Emma Banks and co. will discuss adapting deals, escalating fees and the impact of the “lost year” on ticket pricing

Meanwhile, Live Nation Sweden’s president of festivals and concerts, Anna Sjolund, will chair This Is Why We Do It, with Independent Talent head Duncan Heath, Fruzsina Szep, Paradigm partner/agent Alex Hardee and Martin Elbourne (Glastonbury/DMZ Peace Train) completing the lineup.

Also announced, Sophie Roberts from United Talent Agency is added to Shifting Landscapes: Covid’s effect on corporate relationships, joining Alex Bruford (ATC Live), Arnaud Meersseman (AEG Presents), Matchbox Live CEO Theresho Selesho,  and IQ Magazine staff writer Lisa Henderson.

IFF also welcomes Henrik Bondo Nielsen & Morton Therkildsen (Roskilde Festival) and Nick Morgan from We Are The Fair to the New Threat, New Risks workshop, which features Paleo Festival/iSSUE’s Pascal Viot too.

Lastly, Bella Concerts head Isabelle Pfeifer and MightyHoopla’s Jamie Tagg join the already announced Rob Gibbs (Progressive Artists) and Nika Brunet from MetalDays on Survival Stories: The Independents and psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton (Music Industry Therapist & Coaches) will speak about mental health and wellbeing during Soapbox Sessions: The Lost Causes, alongside Attitude is Everything’s Gideon Feldman and Youth Music’s Daniel Williams.

To view the full conference schedule, click here. Passes are currently £50 including fees until September, register here.

 


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Scorpio CEO to open All Artists Agency in Berlin

Folkert Koopmans, CEO and founder of German promoter FKP Scorpio, is opening All Artists Agency in Berlin, with former Four Artists deputy managing director Markus Grosse leading the management team.

The new agency will work with both national and international artists and will also comprise an independent events department, led by Four Artists’ head of events Dierk Stritzke-Bodenstein.

The founding of All Artists Agency follows German regulators’ blocking of the purchase of Four Artists by FKP Scorpio parent company CTS Eventim in 2017.

Alex Richter, the co-founder and managing director of Four Artists, which represents artists including Seeed, Marteria, Scooter, the Lumineers, the Black Eyed Peas and Jimmy Eat World, left the company in November last year.

Grosse comments: “I have known and appreciated Folkert and his team for over 15 years. I can’t think of a better set-up for my colleagues, myself and our artists. I thank him for his trust and look forward to the collaboration and challenges.”

“I can’t think of a better set-up for my colleagues, myself and our artists”

“Having known some members of the current All Artists team for many years, I am very happy to continue cooperating with them on a new level,” says Koopmans, who says it “feels very good” to have Grosse is on board to help “control the agency’s future”.

“As an agency, we want to be reliable partners to our artists, regardless of the phase that their careers may currently be in. Artist development is our priority and, of course, we will be happy if we can build long-lasting and evolving relationships [with our clients],” adds Koopmans.

One of Europe’s leading promoters, FKP Scorpio organises several hundred concerts per year. Its festival portfolio includes Germany’s Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, M‘era Luna, Plage Noire and Rolling Stone Beach, as well as international events Provinssi (Finland), Sideways Helsinki (Finland), Garden (Sweden), Greenfield (Switzerland) and Best Kept Secret (the Netherlands).

FKP is present in ten European markets, most recently launching a Belgian branch, headed up by Live Nation Belgium veteran Jan Digneffe.

Further updates can be found here, by subscribing to the All Artists Agency newsletter.

 


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FKP Scorpio expands into Poland

Hamburg-based concert promoter FKP Scorpio has grown its European footprint, launching a division in Poland.

FKP Scorpio Poland, headquartered in Warsaw, is headed up by Filip Potocki, who has been managing director of Arcadia Live since 2015.

Other members of the Polish branch include Jan Brzoza (administration, marketing and ticketing) and Krysztof Czarniakowski (project management and ticketing).

“I’ve been following the development of the Polish live music market for a long time and see great potential there,” says FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans.

“I’ve been following the development of the Polish live music market for a long time and see great potential there”

The company had its first foray into the Polish market in 2018, says Koopmans, promoting an Ed Sheeran show in “the fantastic atmosphere of the PGE Narodowy Stadium (58,145-cap.) in Warsaw,” as part of Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ tour.

The first concert organised by FKP Scorpio Poland will be 2019 Eurovision Song Contest winner Duncan Laurence on 25 November at Proxima, Warsaw.

Poland is the ninth country office for the promoter, adding to branches in Norway, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, the UK and Germany.

The Polish expansion follows on from FKP’s recent acquisition of Stockholm-based promoter Woah Dad Live, through its Swedish arm.

 


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One-year hiatus for FKP Scorpio fest A Summer’s Tale

German promoter FKP Scorpio has announced Luhmühlen-based festival A Summer’s Tale will not be returning for 2020, as the festival takes a one-year break.

Ticket sales for A Summer’s Tale 2019 matched last year’s record numbers, with 13,000 fans attending the four-day event.

Taking place from 1 to 4 August, acts including Zaz, Suede and Elbow played at the fifth edition of the woodland festival, which also offers outdoor activities, arts, crafts, readings and theatrical performances.

“A Summer’s Tale is a project close to our hearts,” comments FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans. “We have developed the festival very carefully around the current festival site.”

Although FKP Scorpio wishes to keep the current festival site in Luhmühlen, changes to regulatory requirements may mean the event can no longer take place there in its current capacity.

“A Summer’s Tale is a project close to our hearts”

“The long-term answer to this situation is taking a one-year break,” continues Koopmans. “We will use this time to further develop A Summer’s Tale for the benefit of our guests.”

The FKP Scorpio boss stresses that the festival remains “an integral part” of the festival calendar and confirms that the sixth edition will take place from 22 to 25 July 2021.

Since debuting in 2015, A Summer’s Tale has played host to artists including Franz Ferdinand, Patti Smith, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Amy Macdonald, Damien Rice and PJ Harvey.

FKP Scorpio celebrated a record-breaking weekend earlier this summer, as twin festivals Hurricane/ Southside and two open-air Ed Sheeran shows brought in nearly €50 million from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 June.

 


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Success for Hurricane/Southside after difficult 2016

FKP Scorpio founder Folkert Koopmans has hailed the success of this year’s Hurricane and Southside festivals, which last weekend made a triumphant, (mostly) sunny return after a disastrous 2016.

A total of 138,000 people attended the sold-out sister events – 78,000 of them at Hurricane, at the Eichenring racetrack in Scheesel, northern Germany, and 60,000 at Southside, in Neuhausen ob Eck, near the Swiss border – from 22 to 24 June. Performers included Green Day, Linkin Park, Blink-182, alt-J, Royal Blood, Imagine Dragons, Die Antwoord and Editors.

Both festivals were hit by severe weather in 2016, with one day of Hurricane and two days of Southfield called off amid widespread flooding. “I’ve never seen rain like it,” said Koopmans at the time.

It looked initially as if Hurricane was in for a similar run of bad weather this year, with the start of the festival delayed by a severe thunderstorm. Festivalgoers were asked to remain in their cars until the storm blew over.

“Hurricane was supposed to open at 10am on Thursday,” Koopmans tells IQ, “but we had to delay the opening of the campsite until 2pm. It was a huge storm: I drove to the site on Friday morning, and there were maybe 15 big trees lying in the road…”

“I am very happy that, after last year, everyone was able to have a great time in bright sunshine”

The storm, however, disappeared almost as quickly as it had started, while Southside had its “best weather ever”, says Koopmans.

After the brief scare in Scheesel, both festivals went ahead without a hitch, with rapper Haftbefehl the only cancellation after his flight was delayed.

The introduction of Wo geht’s nach Panama? (Which way to Panama?) – an anti-harassment initiative which allows festivalgoers to ask for help discreetly if they feel unsafe– was a success, adds Koopmans, who estimates between 30 and 50 people used the service. “It’s good that people can go somewhere and say, ‘I have a problem, please help me’, without having to tell everyone why,” he explains.

Festival producer Benjamin Hetzer was also satisfied with the weekend, saying he is happy fans could enjoy a largely uninterrupted festival experience after the difficulties of 2016. “I am very happy after last year that all those present were able to have a great time in bright sunshine,” he comments. “With this year’s festival atmosphere and the smooth cooperation between all stakeholders, we can’t wait for 2018.”

 


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FKP Scorpio responds to Bråvalla assaults

FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans has responded to reports of five rapes at its Bråvalla festival in Norrköping, Sweden, last weekend, clarifying the nature of the allegations but reiterating the promoter’s commitment to ensuring the safety of all festivalgoers.

In a statement provided to IQ, Koopmans (pictured) revealed that of the five initial reports of rape, two have since been withdrawn and three would be better described as sexual harassment and took place in busy crowds, in common with the similar reports from Pukke in Park the same weekend and Schlossgrabenfest in Cologne in May.

“In Sweden we work very hard to protect women, and therefore the police initially report many kinds of sexual crimes as rape,” explains Koopmans. “The law was created to protect the victims, and Swedish women are encouraged to stand up and report any type of sexual harassment – much more so compared to most other countries. As a result we receive a high number of reported rapes and other incidents.

“We had five incidents during the festival. Three of them happened in front of the stages (sexual harassment), and two of them were reported from couples who actually knew each other. Both of those cases have been taken back.”

Bråvalla 2016 actually had the highest level of security since the festival’s founding in 2013, explains Koopmans. “For the 2016 festival we increased the amount of guards, safety personnel sand on-site police officers,” he says. “In total there were about 600 people working with safety on the festival. The public areas around the stages were prioritised areas where we always had a lot of safety personnel.

“We had safety personnel stands on raised platforms in the middle of the audience to have a good sight from above. We made sure that we didn’t have any dark spots on the area, and if we found any when the festival was ongoing we solved that.”

“We had five incidents during the festival. Three of them happened in front of the stages, and two of them were reported from couples who actually knew each other, both of which have been taken back”

He adds that for future events “we will make sure we have even more guards, more lights and, if we get permission from the authorities, an a HD security-camera system monitoring the audience during show times”.

Despite the three confirmed assaults, Koopmans says he was told by police that the festival was “the safest and calmest Bråvalla festival ever”. “Considering we had an average of around 45,000 people on the festival every day for four days, the police made clear that both the festival audience and the festival organisation had done a great job,” he says. “But we did have tragic incidents that a few sick male individuals were responsible for.”

He concludes: “We will not rest until we can arrange a Bråvalla festival free from all sex crimes. We will continue to work very hard with the issue, and among other things we will keep talking to our visitors about consent and respect and working with organisations which specialise in educating the public about sexual violence, equality and consent.

“We are still evaluating what more we can do, and we will do everything in our power to stop any sexual violence at our festival.”

Headliners Mumford & Sons said earlier this week that they wouldn’t play Bråvalla again “until we’ve had assurances from the police and organisers that they’re doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence”. Only time will tell Koopmans’s response has gone some way to assuaging their fears.

 


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