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‘Apocalyptic’ storms hit France’s Eurockéennes

The opening two days of France’s Eurockéennes de Belfort have been cancelled after falling victim to inclement weather.

The 35,000-cap festival was due to have hosted acts including Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Stromae, Diplo, Joy Crookes, Big Thief and Girl in Red from 30 June to 1 July, but is now set to start at 4pm tomorrow (2 July).

Organisers say “sudden and unexpected” weather and strong winds caused significant damage to the festival campsite yesterday, including the main stage roof and Malsaucy peninsula.

“Damage caused by rain and strong winds requires meticulous verification of installations and structures, which is essential for everyone’s safety,” they add.

France Blue reports that seven people were injured in the storm, with one eyewitness describing the scenes as “apocalyptic”. Some 3,000 to 4,000 people were estimated to have arrived onsite at the time, with 1,500 to 2,000 festival-goers needing to be accommodated in a permanent structure for the night due to their tents being torn or blown away.

“The festival teams are making every effort to continue to welcome festival-campers in the best conditions”

The campsite has since reopened, with artists still scheduled to appear at the festival over the weekend including Muse, Foals, Simple Minds and Declan McKenna.

“The festival teams are making every effort to continue to welcome festival-campers in the best conditions,” adds a statement.

Thursday and Friday day ticket-holders will receive a full refund, with those with three-day and four-day passes receiving 66% and 55% refunds, respectively.

Eurockéennes 2020 and 2021 editions were both cancelled because of the pandemic.

 


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Deezer to livestream sold-out stadium concert

French streaming service Deezer is to host a global in-app and web livestream of Jul’s hometown stadium show on Saturday (4 June).

The sold-out 60,000-cap concert will be broadcast from Marseille Orange Vélodrome Stadium from 9pm in “the first large-scale livestream of its kind” on the platform.

The event will take place the day after the French rapper – consistently the most-streamed artist on Deezer – releases his new album Extraterrestre.

“Jul is a superstar, not only in France and his hometown of Marseille, but around the world,” says Nigel Harding, Deezer’s VP of artist relations. “We’re thrilled to be part of bringing this unique experience to an international fanbase.

“This livestream is the first of its kind for Deezer, but there will be many more to come”

“This livestream is the first of its kind for Deezer, but there will be many more to come as we continue to explore ways of bringing artists and fans together.”

The gig will be livestreamed in its entirety in HD quality on the Deezer app and on Deezer.com.

Jul has regularly collaborated with the streaming platform in the past, including on two exclusive shows leading up to the 2020 release of the album 13’Organisé.

 


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Camila Cabello set for UEFA final opening ceremony

Pop star Camila Cabello will headline this year’s UEFA Champions League final opening ceremony.

The Cuban-American singer will perform a five-minute medley from the Stade de France, Paris on Saturday 28 May, moments prior to Liverpool and Real Madrid battling it out for the biggest prize in European football.

Now in its sixth year, the Pepsi Max-presented opening ceremony has previously hosted acts such as Dua Lipa, Imagine Dragons, Alicia Keys and Marshmello.

“Pepsi Max has been working with UEFA to build the opening ceremony platform since 2016 and we’re delighted to be returning to live stadium shows and bringing Camila Cabello to the stage this year,” says Pepsi’s global marketing VP Eric Melis. “Pepsi Max has a long and rich heritage in entertainment and this year’s show will not disappoint as we bring elements of Camila’s Latina spirit to one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year.”

“These events always provide the ultimate cross-pollination of sport and music”

This year’s opening ceremony performance will air in more than 200 countries and territories around the world, with fans able to tune in via their local broadcaster and through the official UEFA TikTok and YouTube channels.

“We are excited to be collaborating with our long-standing partners at Pepsi Max for yet another highly entertaining opening ceremony performance at the 2022 UEFA Champions League final,” adds UEFA marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein. “These events always provide the ultimate cross-pollination of sport and music which we know fans love to watch – and Pepsi Max is the perfect partner to help us do that.

“We know that Camila Cabello is one of the world’s most popular artists and she will help us to build on our fans’ excitement for the opening ceremony performance with a show football fans will never forget.”

 


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Prodiss urges Macron to support live’s recovery

Live music association Prodiss is urging Emmanuel Macron to remove obstacles to the French live sector’s recovery following his re-election as president last weekend.

Prodiss representatives united with theatre organisation SNDTP to publicly back the centrist politician “in conscience and responsibility” ahead of his run-off with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

However, which congratulating Macron on his victory, Prodiss stresses its support is “not a blank cheque”, and has reminded the government of the assistance still required by the cultural sector as it emerges from the Covid crisis, particularly when it comes to live performance.

“In the immediate term, it is important to ensure a sustainable return of the French to performance halls and festivals, by removing the obstacles to a serene recovery, such as the sound decree [noise restriction],” says the organisation.

“It is important to encourage investment and initiative in a sector that was once competitive and dynamic”

“It is also important to encourage, from now on, investment and initiative in a sector that was once competitive and dynamic, by making the sector attractive again, despite the crisis it has suffered, punctuated by stop-and-go and after two years of heavy restrictions.

“In the medium term, we will make sure to maintain the permanent link with the government and the elected officials, like the one that has been ours throughout the period of the health crisis to face the major challenges that will be ours in the years to come.”

Earlier this year, Prodiss posed a series of questions on the future of live music to the country’s presidential candidates in the run-up to the election.

While concerts were able to resume at full capacity in France in February, the business previously joined forces with fellow cultural organisations SMA, SCENES, SNDTP, CAMULC, FESAC and Tous Pour La Musique to denounce the “stigmatisation” of live performance since the onset of the pandemic.

The groups claimed the industry had been “sacrificed” by the authorities after measures were re-imposed on the market amid the Omicron surge late last year.

 


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Prodiss challenges French presidential candidates

French music association Prodiss has posed a series of questions on the future of live music to the country’s presidential candidates in the run-up to next month’s election.

Prodiss president Olivier Darbois (Corida), general manager Malika Séguineau, and officials Marie Rigaud (Le Printemps de Pérouges), Olivier Cauchon (Diogène), Raphaëlle Plasse (Paris La Défense Arena) and Pierre-Alexandre Vertadier (Décibels Productions,) have now circulated six videos via its social media channels under the banner #6QuestionsPourLeLive, challenging the presidential hopefuls for concrete answers on specific issues pertaining to the live sector’s recovery.

Topics covered include The ‘Sound’ decree and its evolution; The return of the public to our rooms; The accessibility of presenters to performance halls, the territorial divide and access to culture; Fair treatment on security costs; Funding from the National Music Center; and The common future of live and digital platforms.

The series will conclude on Wednesday (30 March) with a question about digital platforms, asked by Séguineau.

“We are awaiting concrete answers concerning our professions, our sector”

“We are awaiting concrete answers concerning our professions, our sector,” says the organisation.

While concerts were able to resume at full capacity in France last month, the business previously joined forces with fellow cultural organisations SMA, SCENES, SNDTP, CAMULC, FESAC and Tous Pour La Musique to denounce the “stigmatisation” of live performance since the onset of the Covid crisis.

The groups claimed the industry had been “sacrificed” by the authorities after measures were re-imposed on the market amid the Omicron surge late last year.

The first round of the 2022 French presidential election will be held on 10 April. Prodiss sent an open letter to the declared candidates at the beginning of December 2021 in order to prepare the ground with the candidates.

A document of proposals is currently being drawn up to convey the needs and recommendations of the French performing arts sector for the next five years, which will formalise Prodiss’ five-year vision.

 


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Prodiss: ‘Everybody hopes for a lasting recovery’

Prodiss general manager Malika Seguineau has set out a mission statement for France’s live music industry as it attempts to return to rude health after two years of restrictions.

Since mid-February, all concerts in the country have been permitted to go ahead without capacity limits, with the requirement to wear masks dropped at the end of last month for people with vaccine passports. Prime minister Jean Castex said the pass could even be suspended if the Covid-19 situation improved dramatically.

Speaking of the sector’s “deep relief” and “enthusiasm”, Seguineau expresses her hope for a sustained resurgence for the industry, but advises it will be necessary to rebuild customer confidence over the coming weeks and months.

“These circumstances are happy for our sector, and for all French people,” she says. “For two years , the latter mainly lived their cultural experiences at a distance. It is high time to rediscover the ‘sense of reality’, to return in real life to theatres, concerts and festivals.

“All the professionals with whom I interact daily have told me of their deep relief and their enthusiasm. Everyone hopes, this time, for this lasting recovery.”

The live music association previously told the French government “words of support can no longer be enough” after Covid measures were re-imposed on the performing arts sector amid the Omicron surge late last year.

“Since the reopening, we have seen a feverish public, who need to be reassured, or who have lost their habits”

Prodiss united with fellow cultural organisations SMA, SCENES, SNDTP, CAMULC, FESAC and Tous Pour La Musique to denounce the “stigmatisation” of live performance since the onset of the crisis

Seguineau elaborates on how the stop-start nature of the past 24 months has placed a tremendous strain on event organisers.

“For two years , they have been doing and undoing,” she says. “They lived to the rhythm of the incessant ‘stop-and-go’ of a crisis that had become structural and systemic and which for a long time prevented any visibility of the future.

“After two years , we have the obligation to rethink ourselves: to be and to be reborn. To gather again and find a new dynamic. But this will first and foremost involve re-instilling confidence in the public.

“The entire sector was widely stigmatised in public debate during this period, weakening an entire ecosystem and an entire economy. Today, the reflexes are still far from having returned. Since the reopening, we have seen a feverish public, who need to be reassured, or who have lost their habits.

“This will be one of the many projects that we still have to carry out to fully find ourselves, vibrate again, share moments of communion and rebuild this emotional link.”

 


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United Festival Force: ‘Banding together keeps us independent’

Some of the festival organisers behind the newly formed United Festival Force (UFF) have told IQ about the benefits of banding together.

The alliance, announced earlier this month, comprises seven European metal festivals including Alcatraz (cap. 15,000) in Belgium, Bloodstock (20,000) in the UK and Brutal Assault (20,000) in the Czech Republic.

Dynamo Metalfest (10,5000) in the Netherlands, Leyendas del Rock (18,000) in Spain, Motocultor festival (14,000) in France and Summer Breeze (45,000) in Germany are also part of the group.

The group came together after their joint virtual event, in August 2020, to raise money for the independent festival sector.

“The project helped us to battle the challenging Covid times. We joined our fanbases who supported us by buying a ticket for the event,” says Tomas Fiala from Obscure Promotion, which promotes Brutal Assault (CZ).

“We’re able to show interest by offering a larger number of possible festival appearances”

Roman Hilser from Silverdust, which promotes Summer Breeze, says that joining forces has helped each one of the festivals stay independent. “Together we are stronger,” he adds.

Even as the pandemic recedes, the festivals want to continue the spirit of independence, says Fiala: “The future is finally looking bright so there will be more interesting opportunities for our collaboration.”

Hilser says that one of the top benefits of operating under one umbrella is being able to make bigger and better offers to agents.

“We’re able to show interest by offering a larger number of possible festival appearances to create reasonable routing and advanced touring plans for artists,” he says. “We can also offer help to fill vacant show days before respective festival dates.”

“This will certainly be of advantage for overseas bands, especially US bands,” he continues. “We can act faster and earlier to ensure the required number of show dates, which naturally add further income through fees for the artists.”

“The passion that lies within all our festivals will be strong enough to build future headliners”

Another key objective for the United Festival Force is developing local and underground acts by providing them with slots across the European metal festivals.

“We believe in the importance of developing underground bands,” says Hilser. “The passion that lies within all our festivals will be strong enough to build future headliners. That’s what we are aiming for.”

But on a basic level, the festival organisers are hoping to exchange experiences and learn from both the similarities and differences with their events.

“Of course, we can’t always find a common ground in perspectives since we each have slightly different fan bases and dramaturgy – and the local business environment also comes into play,” says Fiala.

“What’s interesting is that these distinctions can be enriching moments in which we can learn from the approaches and attitudes of others.”

 


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Gracia Live pressing ahead with blockbuster shows

Gracia Live’s Sam Perl has told IQ the company is determined to press ahead with blockbuster shows in Belgium and France in the next few weeks despite ongoing restrictions in the region.

Last month, Belgium introduced a coronavirus barometer in correlation with the number of Covid-related hospitalisations and ICU cases. It is currently at code red, meaning promoters are only permitted to stage seated concerts at restricted capacities.

However, Antwerp-based promoter Gracia is planning to stage Disney On Ice productions in Brussels at the Forest National next weekend and Antwerp’s Lotto Arena from 23-27 February, before hosting Andrea Bocelli at Paris’ Accor Arena on 3 March and the Sportpaleis in Antwerp two days later.

“During Code Red we are finally allowed to promote seated-only shows up to a certain venue capacity,” explains Perl. “If you can guarantee enough air circulation per m³, you can open up to a bigger capacity. After we determined the capacities with the various venues, we decided together with Andrea Bocelli’s team and Feld Entertainment – producer of Disney On Ice – for the shows to go on and take place.

“We are expecting 55,000 to 60,000 spectators for Disney On Ice in February in Belgium and 22,000 in Antwerp and Paris for Bocelli at the beginning of March. It has been a painful bureaucratic process to try to make these show happen , but thankfully we got a great and motivated team to navigate these ‘fun’ waters with. No other promoter is taking the risk at the moment, but we want to get things moving and get started.”

“It’s great to be able to open up in Belgium and France, but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of international touring if other European countries remain closed”

Belgian ministers say the country is close to moving from red to orange on the barometer introduced a few weeks ago “but people still need to exercise caution”. In orange, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is required for both indoor and outdoor events (with the option of requiring an extra rapid antigen test at the entrance for nightclubs). An announcement regarding standing shows is expected to be imminent.

France, meanwhile, began a gradual easing of limits on live events at the start of February.

“The fact that the Andrea Bocelli show is a seated show and only part of a two-show run, and that Disney On Ice is touring France after our Belgium engagement, has been our saviour and allowed us to confirm these shows,” says Perl. “We’re lucky that France is also ‘open’. If we were between the Netherlands and Germany on the routing, we would have had a problem.

“It’s great to be able to open up in Belgium and France, but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of international touring if other European countries remain closed.”

As standing shows are not currently permitted under the current regulations, Grazia has pushed a number of shows, including sold out gigs with Måneskin at the Forest National and Luxembourg’s Rockhal originally slated for this month, to 2023. Upcoming dates by A-ha in May, Olivia Rodrigo, Eric Clapton and John Fogerty in June, and Toto in July are still scheduled to go ahead as planned.

“There is definitely some risk involved with international touring and we are aware we’re going to be a pilot [study] for our colleagues promoters and other venues to learn from, but we have to get started,” adds Perl. “We’re hopeful that by March we’ll be able to start with standing shows again as well.

‘We’re an independent company – we left Live Nation in 2009 and restarted in 2011. But before that, our company was called Make It Happen. That’s still our mantra to this day and I’d like to think it suits us well.”

 


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New indie promoter Take Me Out launches in France

French concert organiser Speakeasy has joined forces with Paris rock club Supersonic to launch new national promoter, Take Me Out, with a focus on breaking emerging artists.

Run by live music industry veteran Jean-Louis Schell, Speakeasy worked with acts such as The Libertines and Kasabian, while the 300-cap Supersonic in Bastille has welcomed the likes of Yungblud, The Warlocks, Nick Olivieri and Soccer Mommy, along with DJ sets by Peter Hook, Anton Newcombe and Carl Barat, among others.

“The idea behind Take Me out is to build on the strengths of both companies to spot talent early on and book their gigs on French territory,” Schell tells IQ.

“The Supersonic has been attracting crowds for the past six years with three free shows a night, a strong programme of up and coming international acts and indie nights. The next step for them was obvious – to become a concert promoter – but they needed the skills and a team. I know how to contribute to an artist’s career and I have a strong network of agents, festivals and venues.

“Supersonic wanted to team up with Speakeasy because before the pandemic they would book an artist with Speakeasy at least once a month, and also appreciated the fact that I went to the shows to see the artist play. I began to know the team quite well and value their dedication to live music.”

“Business is coming back and things are looking good, but more difficult than in the past”

Schell explains the idea to launch Take Me Out was formulated last summer.

“It all came together very quickly, at a time when standing shows were allowed but problems with international tours would still arise because of travelling difficulties,” he recalls. “As far as the organisation goes, it was mostly administrative issues since I just moved my roster from my own company to the new one.

“We want to take the artists as far as we can while remaining independent. We believe there is a lot of potential for international rock and pop artists in France.”

Take Me Out plans to run venues of all sizes, with upcoming dates already in the diary at Supersonic, Maroquinerie, Trianon and Elysée Montmartre, with shows at Zénith also set to be confirmed soon.

“The plan is to take artists way beyond small-sized venues such as the Supersonic,” he notes.

France has announced a gradual easing of restrictions on live events, with audience capacity limits for seated events already lifted and standing events permitted from 16 February.

“Business is coming back and things are looking good, but more difficult than in the past,” adds Schell. “The pandemic crisis has turned into a systemic one. So the only way for us is to find how to bring people back in small and medium venues, which are the core of our business. Let’s say it’s a bet on a brighter future.”

 


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European metal festivals form alliance

Some of the biggest and best-known metal festivals in Europe have formed an alliance to ensure that the members can “continue to offer their fans excellent line ups”.

The United Festival Force comprises seven festivals including Alcatraz (cap. 15,000) in Belgium, Bloodstock (20,000) in the UK, Brutal Assault (20,000) in the Czech Republic and Dynamo Metalfest (10,5000) in the Netherlands.

Leyendas del Rock (18,000) in Spain, Motocultor festival (14,000) in France and Summer Breeze (45,000) in Germany are also part of the alliance.

Bloodstock festival director Adam Gregory tells IQ that the members initially gelled during the pandemic when they joined forces on a virtual fundraiser event.

“We don’t look at each other as competition – we very much try to support each other”

“We were able to talk a lot more [during the pandemic] and provide something together that, individually, we would have probably struggled with. But using the resources of all the festivals, we were able to deliver an online event that was second to none. We don’t look at each other as competition – we very much try to support each other as much as we can.”

Emerging from the pandemic, the alliance says its main goal is to “make scheduling easier for bands as well as agents – no routing scheduling conflicts between these festivals and other arrangements”.

“We all have festivals all over Europe across two or three weekends in August so we wanted to have a bit of unity,” explains Gregory. “It means we can send combined offers to artists so they’ve got the opportunity to earn a bit more and reach a wider audience, across Europe.”

The United Festival Force members plan to meet every six months to share their visions.

 


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