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From the Fields launches partnerships division

From the Fields, the UK festival promoter behind popular summer events Kendal Calling and Bluedot, has hired Chris McCormick to oversee a new brand partnerships division.

McCormick joins Manchester-based From the Fields from Bluepeg/Star Live, where he was commercial director, working with brands including the Mercury Prize, Heineken and Amazon Music. As partnerships director, he will oversee partnerships for both festivals, as well as working with external clients.

Co-op is the newest client for From the Fields Partnerships, with the retail group planning to bring its pop-up festival food and drink store to Kendal Calling (25,000-cap.) from July 2021.

Ben Robinson, From the Fields’ managing director, comments: “The addition of Chris to our team marks an exciting new era for From the Fields, allowing us to service a wider range of clients with a full complement of services from online and offline sponsorship delivery, activations, curation, marketing and production.

“Now, more than ever, brands expect a joined-up approach, and thanks to our portfolio of award-winning major events and our highly-respected team, From the Fields is now uniquely positioned to deliver incredible campaigns.”

“From the Fields is uniquely positioned to deliver incredible campaigns”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining From the Fields,” adds McCormick. I’ve worked with Andy [Robinson, co-founder], Ben and the team for over a decade as clients to my own businesses, and their creative and entrepreneurial spirit has always impressed me. Having the chance to join the dots of our combined skills and experience was an opportunity not to be missed.

“I’ll be steering the partnership strategy for Kendal Calling and Bluedot, as well as working with external clients. We will also be harnessing our creative, marketing and production expertise to deliver experiential and strategy for brands within music, entertainment and live events.”

In addition to launching From the Fields Partnerships, the company has announced a new addition to its event roster in the form of Manchester Food and Drink Festival.

From the Fields’ core festivals, Kendal Calling and Bluedot (21,00-cap.), will return in July 2021, with Björk, Groove Armada and Metronomy having already been announced as Bluedot 2021 headliners.

Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea, curated by From the Fields, will go ahead this month in a Covid-secure format.

 


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Events 4 Covid 19: UK co’s unite for local community

Events 4 Covid 19, a new network of event organisers and suppliers in the north-west of England, are pooling their resources to assist with requests from hospitals, local government, charities and other organisations who need support to fight the coronavirus.

The group includes suppliers that have access to generators, furniture, comms equipment, tents and marquees, outdoor and indoor audio equipment, outdoor and indoor lighting, vehicles, staging equipment, medical and ambulances, heating equipment, venue dressing and many other items.

Companies signed up so far include promoter From the Fields (Kendal Calling, Bluedot), Jon Drape’s Engine No 4, the Warehouse Project, Manchester International Festival, the Green Events Company and Mustard Media, among others.

The group can also provide services including security, medical, AV engineers, traffic management, project management, networks of freelancers, transportation and volunteer management.

Less than a week after its inception, Events 4 Covid 19 has already joined forces with a number of organisations, charities, initiatives and local government groups in Greater Manchester to support the fast-growing demand for equipment and services.

“This a great example of the events industry coming together in a moment of crisis to assist the organisations most in need”

The Warehouse Project’s Sacha Lord, who is also Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, says: “I’m backing this new initiative which is a great example of the events industry coming together in a moment of crisis to assist the organisations most in need.”

Organisations can submit requests for resources here, while rvent suppliers can submit a request to join the network here.

Events 4 Covid 19 was initiated last week by Nelson Beaumont-Laurencia of CityCo and Robert Masterson of Mustard Media, after being inspired by their colleagues in Portugual.

The group is looking for colleagues who are able to replicate the scheme in other areas of the UK. If you can help, please contact rob@mustardmedia.net.

 


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Festival Fever: updates on 2020 summer

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from Bluedot, Sziget festival, Reading and Leeds, Lowlands, Flow Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Bluedot

When: 23 to 26 July
Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK
How many: 16,000

From the Fields’ Bluedot festival, which takes place each year at the Jodrell Band Observatory – a recently declared UNESCO World Heritage site – is back for its fifth outing in 2020 with another packed programme of music and science.

Friday night sees dance act Groove Armada head up the main stage, with indie-electro group Metronomy headlining on Saturday. The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk, who is performing alongside Manchester’s Halle Orchestra to a backdrop of bespoke projections on Jodrell Bank’s crowning jewel, the Lovell Telescope.

Elsewhere, performances will come from 808 State, Roisin Murphy, Crazy P, Spiritualized and Daniel Avery.

Last year’s Bluedot, which coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, saw headline performances from Hot Chip, Kraftwerk and New Order.

Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are available here, priced at £168.75 for a weekend camping ticket.

The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk

Sziget

When: 5 to 11 August
Where: Obuda island, Budapest, Hungary
How many: 60,000

Hungarian mega-festival Sziget released the first wave of its line-up last week, with a total of five headline acts announced so far.

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage at the week-long festival, with ASAP Rocky, Khalid, Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Foals, Mark Ronson, Foster the People, Diplo and FKA Twigs among other acts performing at the event.

Over 530,000 people attended Sziget 2019, which saw nine headline performances over seven days from Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine, Martin Garrix, the 1975, Twenty One Pilots, the National and Macklemore.

Providence Equity partners took a 70% stake in Sziget promoter Sziget Cultural Management in 2017, as the festival became one of the first assets in the now-significant Superstruct portfolio.

Tickets for Sziget 2020 are available here, with a full seven-day pass costing €299 (£249) and a VIP pass priced at €599 (£499). Prices go up on 3 March.

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage

Reading and Leeds

When: 28 to 30 August
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading/Bramham Park, Leeds, UK
How many: 100,000

Festival Republic’s twin festivals Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine this year, with fellow headliners Stormzy and Liam Gallagher.

Other performers at 2020 events include Run the Jewels, Courteeners, Migos, Gerry Cinnamon, AJ Tracey, Sam Fender, Rex Orange County, Slowthai and Idles.

The festivals last year recorded their hottest and biggest year yet, with nearly 200,00 people a day collectively attending the twin events over the hottest August bank holiday on record. Headline performances came from the 1975, Foo Fighters and Twenty One Pilots, with then-rising star, now multi award-winner Billie Eilish producing what “may well have been the biggest crowd at a Reading show ever”.

Tickets to Reading and Leeds festivals are available here, with a weekend ticket priced at £232.20 and day tickets priced between £81.50 and £86.50.

Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine, with Stormzy and Liam Gallagher

A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise

When: 21 to 23 August
Where: Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands
How many: 55,000

Mojo Concerts’ A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, or Lowlands, has confirmed the first 55 acts for its 2020 festival.

The Chemical Brothers, Foals, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Stormzy and Michael Kiwanuka are among acts playing at this year’s event.

The 2019 edition of Lowlands sold out for the fastest time in years, with a line-up featuring Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, ASAP Rocky and New Order.

In a bid to make future events more sustainable, Mojo is working together with renewable energy producer Solarfields to develop a 35-hectare solar farm on the Lowlands festival car park, due to be completed in time for 2021 festival.

Festival tickets for Lowlands 2020 have sold out, but €605 (£504) group camping tickets (up to 8 people) are still available here.

The Chemical Brothers, Foals and Lewis Capaldi are among acts playing at this year’s event

Flow Festival

When: 14 to 16 August
Where: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki-based, multi-venue music and arts event Flow Festival is playing host to acts including Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco, Stormzy, the Strokes, FKA Twigs and 070 Shake.

The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance and comes in a string of Scandinavian festival appearances, adding to slots at Norway’s Oya festival and Way Out West in Sweden.

James Barton-led festival owner/operator Superstruct acquired a stake in Flow Festival in November 2018.

Tickets for Flow Festival 2020 are available here, with a one-day ticket costing €105 (£88) and a three-day passed priced at €195 (£163).

The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance

Montreux Jazz Festival

When: 3 to 18 July
Where: Montreux, Switzerland
How many: 200,000 (whole festival)

Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz, Brittany Howard and Black Pumas are the first acts announced this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF).

Taking place on the banks of Lake Geneva, MJF celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and last year played host to performers including Elton John, Snarky Puppy, Lewis Capaldi, George Ezra, Lizzo, the Chemical Brothers, Mac DeMarco and Quincy Jones.

The MJF team last year launched media company Montreux Media Ventures, which is working together with luxury hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resort Group to establish a concert series across the group’s properties and keep the MJF spirit alive all year.

Tickets to Montreux Jazz Festival 2020 will become available on March 27, the day after the full programme is released.

 


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Rain fails to dampen spirits at From the Fields fests

Extreme weather tested Manchester, UK-based promoter From the Fields at Kendal Calling and Bluedot festivals this year, but did little to detract from the events’ best ticket sales to date.

Bluedot and Kendal Calling, From the Field’s biggest events, took place on two consecutive weekends from 18 to 21 and 25 to 28 July.

Both festivals were an “absolute success”, From the Fields co-director and Bluedot festival director Ben Robinson tells IQ. Bluedot, now in its fourth year, sold out in advance with a 30% increase in capacity.

“I think we’ve reached our happy size there at 16,000,” says Robinson, stating “we have no ambition to increase further.”

The longer-running, larger Kendal Calling also saw record sales, shifting 30,000 tickets and maintaining a capacity crowd throughout the weekend, despite “a lot of extreme weather”.

“Every stage went ahead as planned and the festival opened on time every day,” explains Robinson, commending the site crew on their efforts “against the elements”.

Taking place each year at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the gigantic Lovell Telescope, the fourth outing was a special one for Bluedot, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing.

“[The moon bounce] was the most unique thing I’ve ever seen at a festival and something you’d only find at Bluedot”

Audio clips recorded by headliners Kraftwerk, New Order and Hot Chip were used in a moon bounce, a radio communications technique that reflects waves from the moon back to an Earth-based receiver.

Robinson says the Bluedot moon bounce was “the most unique thing I’ve ever seen at a festival and something you’d only find at Bluedot”, which fuses music, science and technology.

The festival received a one-off license extension to 5 a.m. on the Saturday, allowing organisers to projection map onto the telescope and broadcast radio clips in real time with the original moon landing fifty years before.

According to Robinson, the “niche electronic programming” and music/ science combination – scientific speakers such as astronaut Helen Sharman and wildlife documentary presenter and biologist Liz Bonnin shared the main stage along with musical acts – attracts a “more specific audience” than Kendal Calling.

“Kendal Calling really feels like a broad cross section of the northwest of the UK,” says the From the Fields co-director. “There’s something for everyone.”

Orbital, Nile Rodgers and Chic, Manic Street Preachers, Doves, Courteeners and Tom Jones were among those playing the main stage over the weekend at Kendal Calling. Bristol punk rock band Idles were joined on stage by rapper Slowthai in a “truly unique” collaboration.

“There’s a real sense of community at both Bluedot and Kendal, and that makes people feel safe”

Despite their differences, both festivals provide a family-friendly environment, which Robinson puts down to “robust back of house services” and “good security and stewarding”.

“There’s a real sense of community at both Bluedot and Kendal, and that makes people feel safe,” says Robinson.

Both festivals have “landmark” years coming up in 2020, with Bluedot’s fifth anniversary and Kendal Calling’s 15th edition.

If this year’s Bluedot was about looking backwards at an iconic historical moment, says Robinson, next year’s festival will be a lot more future-facing. “The collaboration between music, science and tech gives ample opportunity to keep things fresh, as there are always new and exciting elements within those areas.”

Robinson describes the longevity of Kendal Calling as a “really bold achievement for us”, as the promoter confirms plans to continue the festival for the next ten years at least. Following “quite a muddy year”, the From the Fields co-director believes it is the right time to take a step back and look at “refreshing the site and design” in time for the festival’s anniversary.

Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are already available, with weekend camping priced at £168.75. Tickets for next year’s Kendal Calling go on sale on Friday at 10 am GMT.

 


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From Liverpool to Seoul: Sound City’s Asian adventure

Independent festival and conference Sound City has its roots firmly in the northwest of the UK but has recently begun to set its sights much further afield, tapping into the rapidly growing South Korean music industry.

Here, IQ talks to Sound City chief executive David Pichilingi about new ventures overseas, the appetite for new music in Asia and why Sound City is much more than “just” a music festival…

IQ: What are the origins of Sound City?
DS: We launched Sound City in 2008, because it felt at that time that Liverpool was looking backwards. Liverpool is a city with such an important musical history and a strong tradition of shaping popular culture, but it felt like it had got to the point where everything was focused on reflecting on the past rather than trying to define the future.

Sound City was the model needed to enable Liverpool and the wider region to begin looking forward and begin trying to reinvent itself for a modern audience. The ethos was always to put Liverpool and the region on the map, and we aimed to do that through musical showcases linked to a world class conference schedule.

By showcasing what we felt was the best of creative talent on offer, we have grown into presenting over 350 bands from 22 different countries. This year we had over 7,500 bands applying to play at Sound City. There’s also the business conference, which has been present from day one right in the heart of festival. It has grown from 50 speakers in year one and a couple hundred of delegates, to this year over 1,500 delegates and speakers. To date, Sound City has helped to secure around £30 million in new deals for UK artists and music-based businesses, equating to around £3m per year.

Sound City was the model needed to enable Liverpool and the wider region to begin looking forward and begin trying to reinvent itself for a modern audience

How did Sound City Korea come about?
Like most things in life it was a happy accident. Our mission has always been to support the development of artists and industry talents in any shape or form. We started getting inquiries from organisations based in Korea, China, Australia and parts of central Europe, wanting to showcase musical talent and bring business representatives.

Through this, we cultivated contacts with a wide range of people, including a very close relationship with Dalse, who runs Zandari Festival (South Korea’s largest showcase event) in Seoul. He wanted to grow the festival and shared our ethos of supporting young artists. We started by helping to book speakers and by taking agents and labels over, then that grew into us taking British bands over and putting on a British stage. Four years on, we have our own version of Sound City in Seoul. There was no strategic plan just kindred spirits and like-minded people coming together to create something inspiring.

Have you expanded into other parts of Asia?
Absolutely, the reputation and credibility of Zandari Festival has grown substantially because of our association with it and because of what we’ve done there, we have been asked to do similar things elsewhere. We are looking to build on that and a key priority over the next three to five years is to create a version of Sound City in China as go to event for Asia.

Modern Sky, the largest independent Chinese record label and festival promoter, is our conduit into that marketplace. Through our partnership with them, we have the ability to connect with audiences and businesses in China and the wider Asian region, giving us an opportunity that few others have.

With Modern Sky, we are aiming to create a flagship event in China. The idea is to create more opportunities as opposed to fewer, and we are by no means aiming to take away from Zandari with this. We want to coordinate it so artists can come from doing one or two shows at Zandari, to then performing in China. So rather than getting people to fly out for four days, they can come for ten and attend two conferences and showcase festivals instead of one.

A key priority over the next three to five years is to create a version of Sound City in China as go to event for Asia

It’s important to note that this is all about two-way traffic. We are also helping Asian artists to make it in the UK and Europe, as well as showcasing our own talents and creating our own connections in Asia.

Why is the Asian market important?
Via globalisation and social platforms it is possible for anybody to be known overseas now and the days of trying to be only king of your own backyard is over for artists.

In the Asian region, Korea is seen as a very important marketplace, even though it’s not that big – much in the same way that the UK music market is influential but relatively small – and a lot of artists use it to get a foothold elsewhere.

The level of opportunity in Asia in general is huge, especially in China where audience consumption of popular music is estimated at 550 million people. It is also still a relatively untapped marketplace. In China and the rest of Asia, there is a very savvy young audience now with a strong connection with the west and western culture. In terms of the music and subcultures, there is a lot of opportunity for independent record labels and emerging artists. It is much more of a level playing field over there.

What else is Sound City up to?
The Sound City festival comes as both a blessing and a curse – people think that’s all we are but we do so many different things.

We have a lot going on abroad but are doing many other great things at home too. In July this year we launched a new version of Sound City at Manchester International Festival, as a part of Distractions (a three-day summit on future of entertainment). We are now aiming to turn that into an annual event, so we have two meaningful events for business delegations and artists in two of the strongest music cities in the UK.

In China and the rest of Asia, there is a very savvy young audience now with a strong connection with the west and western culture

Our event Off the Record, which we do in conjunction with festival promoter From the Fields, is coming into its fourth year. This is a very grassroots festival, for artists and young people on the first rung of the ladder still trying to make sense of it all. We have sold out for the past three years and are looking to do the same for the fourth year too.

We also run music entrepreneurship training, offering early stage talent development for young people, featuring music-making, training, mentoring and work placement opportunities, with a focus on areas of deprivation in Liverpool and the northwest.

In terms of our wider strategic partnerships, we are the lead UK partner in the Keychange initiative (led by PRS Foundation and supported by the Creative Europe programme) which encourages festivals and music organisations to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022.

This has also led to us being part of the INES network which is a EU cooperation project led by a network of eight international showcase festivals to create a united, strong European music market.

When we started Sound City over 14 years ago our mantra was always to have an international footprint. Over these years we have now built a strong and credible brand that is respected globally. We are still proud to call Liverpool, Manchester and the North our home from where everything else radiates.

 

The inaugural Sound City Ipswich, a one-day conference and multi-venue festival, is taking place on 4 October in partnership with Out Loud Music and local venue the Smokehouse.

 


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The show must go on…

In Bohemian Rhapsody, the recent Queen biopic, we see Live Aid broadcast to 1.9 billion people. A moment in music history where the combined forces of music and events came together to try to change the world.

Fast-forward 30 years, and the power of music and events to bring people together and change their perspectives remains, and is at the heart of Energy Revolution, a charity set up by a collection of industry professionals with first-hand knowledge of running large-scale events in rural locations.

It started in 2015, when industry think tank Powerful Thinking laid out the environmental impacts of the UK festival industry and presented them at the COP21 climate change talks in Paris. The report was called the Show Must Go On (also, incidentally, the final track on Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo) and was a festival industry response to climate change, the current global issue facing the planet, and one that we all need to address in our lifetimes. The report showed that up to 80% of the average festival’s carbon footprint came from audience travel, which is where Energy Revolution’s mission was born.

There is no quick fix to the problem of climate change. Positive change must come from both practical action and perceptual shifts. Earlier this year, a single episode of the BBC’s Blue Planet caused a shift in perception so drastic that social media feeds are still brimming with ways to avoid single-use plastic. What an epic sign that change can come quickly when the message is clear and powerful.

Energy Revolution works with over 40 UK festivals, their audiences, suppliers, and artists, to help them understand the practical impacts of their travel choices. We help event organisers engage audiences and encourage them to consider more sustainable travel methods – and people are more engaged than ever.

In the words of Freddie, “the show must go on” – and for that to happen, we need to have a healthy planet for the show to be on

But let’s be honest: most festivals happen in fields or remote locations, and there is little chance that touring headline artists will fit their show production into the boot of a Tesla. In accepting this reality, Energy Revolution calculates impacts from travel by measuring and recording fossil fuel miles, calculating the associated CO2, and then balancing unavoidable emissions via donations that we then invest in projects that create clean renewable energy.

One hundred percent of all donations go to the projects, which have so far included reforestation, wind turbines, and community-owned solar and wind projects. So far, Energy Revolution has balanced over 7.8 million average car miles, that’s the equivalent of 2.5 million kg CO2e. It’s a bold start, but the real power in the project is the framework we’ve created that means all events, venues, gig-goers, crew, and artists can educate themselves on the true impacts of travel emissions, and actively balance that impact in a direct, practical and positive way.

Times change: Bohemian Rhapsody shows Bob Geldof expressing the plight of the African continent and rallying for £1 million (£2.2m in today’s climate). That’s around what one artist of equivalent stature might get for a single show today, and in the region of what Glastonbury donates each year to charity. Charity is also at a point where the perception change required is one that drops ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas?’ from its vocabulary, and instead empowers the communities they help.

Today, the greatest threat to humanity is climate change. We need to utilise the power of music and events to change perceptions and encourage practical action. We have reach through our audiences. Just as our industry has developed standards in health and safety, disability access and hearing protection, we also need to have sustainability on the tips of our tongues.

Kendal Calling, Boomtown, Download, Reading, Shambala, Bluedot are already on board, and I implore anyone reading this to get on-board, too, and to help spread the word. In the words of Freddie, “the show must go on” – and for that to happen, we need to have a healthy planet for the show to be on.

 


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