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Fruzsina Szép reflects on Superbloom’s sold-out debut

Seasoned festival pro Fruzsina Szép has spoken to IQ about the debut edition of Goodlive’s newest festival, Superbloom.

The two-day event finally launched in Munich’s historic Olympic Park last weekend (3–4 September) after two postponements due to Covid-related restrictions.

Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta and David Guetta were among the acts that performed across 11 stages during the event.

Alongside live music, the festival delivered a multi-faceted programme of art, culture, diversity, lifestyle, society, research and development, sustainability and science, with the aim of “redefining the music festival concept”.

“I wanted to create a 360-degree festival experience and I think we’ve done that well,” says Szép. “It was important to me that the visitors immersed themselves in a charming world and experienced many moments of happiness that they can now take with them into their everyday lives.”

The inaugural edition drew 50,000 visitors and ultimately sold out, which Szép says was “a dream come true” after a “mentally challenging” few years for the Superbloom team.

“It’s a new festival, a new brand, a new site and there are new colleagues, so there’s a learning curve”

And while the event was a success, Szép says that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s a new festival, a new brand, a new site and there are new colleagues, so there’s a learning curve…we have to be patient,” says the director, who has previously worked on Lollapalooza Berlin and Sziget.

“Sometimes our audience expects us to be 100% but we are not perfect and I don’t want to be perfect,” she continues. “I always wanted to have the possibility to make mistakes but to learn from them and to correct them and make them better in the next year. I’m not afraid to receive criticism – I grow from it.”

The biggest learning curve for the festival, she says, was navigating the unique site, which utilised the 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium as the main stage.

On Saturday night, organisers were forced to halt entry to the stadium, where headliner Calvin Harris was playing his only German concert this year, due to a crowd flow issue.

“The problem was, on the floor of the stadium there is a maximum capacity of 20,000 and that was already full,” explains Szép.

“Sometimes our audience expects us to be 100% but we are not perfect and I don’t want to be perfect”

“There would have been space for 30–40,000 more people in the seats but people were stopping and sitting down at the beginning of the seats, rather than moving to the far end.

“Many people were queueing outside and some people were trying to go to another stage so it became the kind of situation which could have been very difficult. And Calvin Harris was already playing so it was impossible for the security and volunteers to ask people to get up and move along. That’s why we had to decide very quickly to stop letting people into the stadium.

“We were planning the crowd flow for months but we weren’t prepared for people to sit down at the beginning of the stands.”

The next day, the Superbloom team communicated the crowd flow to fans and the main stage programme went off without a hitch.

Extreme weather also proved to be an issue on the Saturday, with strong winds, heavy rain, lightning and thunder causing the programme to grind to a halt for an hour and a half.

As a result, Years & Years were forced to forego their set on the main stage and Megan Thee Stallion’s slot was reduced to 30 minutes.

Superbloom was praised by the German government for making the festival inclusive and accessible for disabled music fans

“The safety and security of our audience, our artists and our team is the first priority when we are on-site – no question,” says Szép. “Severe weather is an issue for every open-air event – we have to deal with force majeure measures all the time. These are normal procedures.”

Challenges aside, the festival was hailed as one of the most diverse events in the European festival market, with a range of ages, genders, races, nationalities and sexualities represented on the lineup. This was ultimately reflected in the audience – 60% of which were female.

In addition, Superbloom was praised by the German government for making the festival inclusive and accessible for disabled music fans.

“We worked closely with a group of experts who live with disabilities to help us deliver the maximum festival experience for others [with handicaps],” says Szép.

“Yesterday I was in a panel with the government’s representative for disabled people living in Germany, who is blind himself, and he said he has never before seen a German festival of that size so well organised for disabled people. That gave me such a great feeling.”

Having grown up with a blind father, accessibility is a matter close to Szép’s heart and has informed many aspects of the festival.

Having grown up with a blind father, accessibility is a matter close to Szép’s heart

“I grew up in Munich. And, for many years, on many weekends, my father and I would walk around this Olympic Park. He told me to experience the world not just with my eyes but with all my senses so I had this in my head while creating the concept for the festival.

“Being an adult now and having the possibility to organise Superbloom here was so emotional and I could feel my father’s energy,” says Szép.

Alongside the main stages, the Superbloom programme included an area hosting 30 NGOs including Greenpeace and Music Declares Emergency, assembled by Yourope general manager Holger Schmidt.

Other dedicated areas focussed on art, fashion, and theatre, with roaming performances ranging from robot dogs and giraffes, to ballerinas twirling atop mobile pianos and marching bands.

Superbloom returns to the Olympic Park in Munich from 2-3 September 2023.

 


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Goodlive details debut outing of Superbloom

Germany’s Goodlive has detailed the inaugural edition of Munich festival Superbloom.

The two-day event was due to launch two years ago but was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-related restrictions.

The highly anticipated festival is now set to take place at Munich’s historic Olympic Park on 3 and 4 September.

Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta, Years & Years and Tupoka Ogette have today been confirmed to perform at Superbloom 2022.

They join previously announced acts David Guetta, AnnenMayKantereit, Kraftklub, Glass Animals, Stromae, Anne-Marie, Zoe Wees, Kaya Yanar, Willow and Girl in Red.

Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta, Years & Years and Tupoka Ogette have today been confirmed

In addition to musical artists, best-selling author, human rights activist and anti-racism expert Tupoka Ogette will give a keynote speech on the main stage.

The Berlin comedian Kurt Krömer and comedy veteran Kaya Yanar will deliver comedy shows, and many other artists and podcasters will also be part of the diverse line-up.

Alongside the entertainment, Superbloom will offer 11 ‘experience areas’ centred around art, fashion, science, sustainability, dance and acrobatics.

Further experience areas as well as the line-up of the newcomer stage NeoNeo and the BeerBrass&Beats beer garden will be announced in the coming months.

The Superbloom team is spearheaded by European festival pro Fruzsina Szép, who was appointed MD of the festival in 2019.

See the line-up for Superbloom below.

Superbloom, Munich

 


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Euro execs map out live’s road to recovery

A trio of European live music figures have given their thoughts on rising ticket prices, customer demand and the grassroots circuit as they gear up for the 2022 season.

Speaking in the latest issue of IQ, CTS Eventim COO Alexander Ruoff, Superbloom MD Fruzsina Szep and Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of the UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT), mapped out the forthcoming year for the live business.

Ruoff discussed the long-term ramifications of Covid for the touring business, warning that Covid risk mitigation and rising supply chain costs were likely to have knock-on effects for consumers.

“If costs remain persistently high due to increased requirements for access and hygiene measures, and for suppliers, this will also have an impact on ticket prices in the longer term,” he said, adding that the crisis could lead to further consolidation within the marketplace.

Munich-based CTS posted “encouraging” financial results for Q3 2021, powered by strong ticket sales by major international artists including Ed Sheeran, Genesis and Coldplay, as well as German rock act Udo Lindenberg.

However, Ruoff stopped short of forecasting a swift return to 2019 levels of business.

“We had thought that this would be the case in 2021, but the virus has taught us that it is unpredictable,” he cautioned. “We are confident for the summer. How the rest of the year will develop is not predictable from today’s perspective.”

“We have to gain back the trust of our fans and the sponsors”

Fruzsina, whose previous roles include festival director for Lollapalooza Berlin and programme director of Sziget Festival in Budapest, spoke of the immediate challenges facing the festival industry.

“We have to gain back the trust of our fans and the sponsors,” she said. “We have to come back in full capacity, and the main restrictions have to disappear in the longer term in order to promote again in a normal and trustful way. The audience is much more careful [about] where they go, what they buy, when, and for which event.”

Goodlive’s Superbloom is set for Olympic Park in Munich from 3-4 September, with artists such as Stromae, David Guetta, Anne-Marie and Glass Animals.

“I feel confident in the festival summer 2022, and I know that many of my dear brothers and sisters in the festival family feel the same,” added Fruzsina.

Whitrick, meanwhile, talked through the MVT’s developing relationships with associations across the world. The organisation unveiled Venues Day International – the first global event aimed exclusively at grassroots music venue operators and owners – last year in partnership with Live DMA (Europe), Music Policy Forum (North America), Canadian Live Music Association, Live Music Office Australia and NIVA (US).

“We hope to hold an online International Venues Day in 2022 to develop the network further, with the eventual aspiration of holding an in-person international version of our established national networking event,” she said.

“Our sector is made up of dedicated, resilient people who will do everything they can to persevere. Things are tough, but over 900 venues are still here, and we will continue to work collectively to support each other and tackle long and short-term challenges. If we can fix some of the things that make the finances so precarious – business rates, VAT on tickets, ownership of the buildings – then our venues can get on with presenting amazing shows, connecting audiences with new artists, and providing vital spaces for the development of new music.”

 


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Germany’s Goodlive announces reshuffle

Germany’s Goodlive has announced a new management structure “in preparation for ‘the roaring 20s’ of the post-pandemic live entertainment industry”.

Co-founders and managing partners Stefan Lehmkuhl and Thomas Resch have announced their departure from the company, leaving Fruzsina Szép, Julian Gupta and Justus Mang with greater responsibility.

Gupta, alongside his role as managing director of Ferropolis-based festival splash! (cap. 30,000), will also assume responsibility for the festival booking team at Goodlive.

In addition, he will also take over the management and booking of Freiburg-based festival Heroes, which Goodlive partnered with in early 2020, working alongside the festival’s founder Lukas Apfelbacher.

Szép, who was appointed MD of Superbloom in 2019, will be primarily responsible for the Munich launch of the festival.

“[Fruzsina, Julian and Justus] have one of the best teams in the world at their disposal”

Meanwhile, Mang heads Goodlive Artists, the company’s touring arm (description), which recently expanded to Austria.

In the future, all three will actively support the management of Goodlive, alongside the remaining confounders and managing partners at the company Marko Hegner and Mirko Roßner. The fifth cofounder of Goodlive, Matthias Hörstmann, left in 2017.

Stefan Lehmkuhl says: “I am incredibly proud and delighted that trusted friends like Fruzsina, Julian and Justus will play a more leading role in shaping the future of Goodlive. They have one of the best teams in the world at their disposal, and many of the people I’ve worked with over the years are taking on more responsibility for some of the projects I’ve had the pleasure to help shape over the past 20 years.

“Personally, I long for a period of pause and reflection on whether and in what capacity I see my future in the live entertainment industry after the pandemic, and I am happy to have the privilege of taking a longer break after more than two decades of never standing still.”

“We feel well-positioned to further expand our role as an independent alternative in the festival and touring market”

Thomas Resch adds: “When I stumbled into the live entertainment industry 25 years ago at the young age of 18, I could not have imagined where this journey would lead. It was a very exciting time with many challenges and even more unforgettable moments.

“During the last years, Julian Gupta has firmly shaped splash! and achieved a great deal. I am sure that under his leadership, our strong team will master all other challenges and that Goodlive will continue on its successful path.”

Marko Hegner, MD, Goodlive, says: “We feel well-positioned to further expand our role as an independent alternative in the festival and touring market from 2022 onwards and are incredibly excited to finally tackle projects that had already been planned before Corona, such as Superbloom Festival in Munich, Heroes Festival in Freiburg and the launch of Goodlive Artists in Austria.

“I have a lot of respect for Thomas’ and Stefan’s decisions to put their own needs first after a pandemic that was demanding for all of us, and I am grateful that together we have succeeded in optimally positioning Goodlive for the future in terms of personnel during a longer preparation phase.”

 


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Fruzsina Szép named MD of Munich’s Superbloom fest

Experienced European festival pro Fruzsina Szép has joined Superbloom, a new event debuting in Munich next September, as managing director.

Szép was most recently festival director of Lollapalooza Berlin, which she had overseen since its launch in 2015. Before joining Lolla Berlin (produced by Superbloom organiser Goodlive for Live Nation’s C3 Presents and Festival Republic), she spent seven years as programme director for Budapest’s Sziget festival.

“I will dedicate my entire expertise, passion, attention to detail and creativity to the exciting challenge as managing director and festival director of Superbloom within Goodlive GmbH,” she comments. “I am especially happy that we are bringing this exceptional format to my hometown, Munich.

“My focus is to combine tradition and innovation, local and international, in a loving and special way, to craft a unique and new experience that can only take place in Munich.”

Superbloom will take place for the first time on 4 and 5 September 2021, its debut delayed by Germany’s summer-long large-event ban.

Held at Munich’s Olympic Stadium/Olympiapark, Superbloom promises a “new festival experience” that “redefines the music festival concept” with mix of “international and national live acts” and “art, culture, diversity, lifestyle, society, research and development, sustainability and science”.

“Building a new festival brand in these times is a unique opportunity”

Performers including Miley Cyrus, David Guetta, DJ Snake, the Pussycat Dolls, Scooter and Liam Payne were to have played the 2020 festival.

“Building a new festival brand in these times is a unique opportunity,” says Stefan Lehmkuhl, managing partner of Goodlive, “in a new era, without blinders from the past, but also with major social challenges. With Superbloom I couldn’t imagine a better team for this than the one under the leadership of my longtime friend and colleague, Fruzsina.”

In addition to her years with Lollapalooza and Sziget, Hungarian-born Szép founded the Hungarian Music Export Office and helped develop the EU project CEETEP (Central-Eastern European Talent Exchange Programme). She is also a board member of the European Festival Association (Yourope), a chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and an honorary associate professor.

“With great longtime colleagues like Julia Gudzent in booking, Steven Kruijff in production and Jule Kauert in project management, as well as the whole Goodlive team, I think we are absolutely capable of setting new standards in the European festival landscape,” adds Lehmkuhl.

The ticket presale for Superbloom 2021 will open in the coming weeks, with two-day tickets starting at €155 and day tickets from €89.

 


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Angry punks and happy faces: industry pros talk breakthroughs

Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder. IQ puts some more ILMC regulars in the spotlight and asks them to share their breakthrough moments…

 


John Giddings, Solo Agency

When I was about 14 years old, a mate at school persuaded me to learn to play bass guitar, with the promise that we would pull chicks. I had to borrow a bass because I could not afford to buy one and that’s why, to this day, I play bass guitar with a right-handed guitar, upside down, because I’m left handed.

We were at a gig and we were playing ‘The Nile Song’ from Pink Floyd’s More album and this punk came up to the stage and said, “If you don’t stop playing, now, then I’m going to fucking hit you!”

That was the end of my career as a musician, but I knew I wanted to be part of the live music thing, even if I was not capable of being onstage.

In those days, we just used to listen to LPs on our own in our bedroom, but I remember going to Isle of Wight Festival and walking over the top of the hill to see 600,000 other people who liked the same music as me – it was like going on a pilgrimage. And that was that – I was hooked.

Going to Isle of Wight Festival was like going on a pilgrimage – I was hooked

Christof Huber, OpenAir St. Gallen/Yourope

When I was around 15, I knew that I wanted to work in music and organise events. I even wrote business plans about my future virtual company. After my apprenticeship, I looked around for job options, but at that time there were very few in the Swiss market and I couldn’t find a way in. I never lost that focus, but I had to work in several other jobs, including as a bookkeeper in real estate in 1992. Hell!

Out of the blue, a former work colleague called me to tell me that she was working for OpenAir St. Gallen, as the assistant for the festival director but was going to leave. As I was so persistent in telling her about my vision, she suggested I put myself forward for the job interview. This was my chance!

I went to the interview and tried to convince them that there was only one person who would be perfect to do the job. They asked me for some time as they had other candidates, but due to a timeline in my other job, I needed a quick answer. They had me complete some tests and I convinced them that I would do everything to make my dream come true. And they finally offered me the job.

I remember as I drove home that I looked at other people and felt so lucky to have achieved my dream.

I started in 1993, was able to take over the event company a few years later and work with wepromote Switzerland on a national level for many festivals and concerts.

In addition, for the past 20 years, I have been part of the European festival family of Yourope where I’ve made so many close friends.

Thank you, Lisa and Andreas, for having given me this opportunity.

I remember as I drove home that I looked at other people and felt so lucky to have achieved my dream

Fruzsina Szép, Lollapalooza Berlin

Since childhood I had always been very passionate and enthusiastic about arts and music and creating and organising things. Watching the happy faces during a festival is “my fuel“ and has kept me going for so many years in the industry, despite the gigantic workload many of us deal with day to day.

In 2008, I was offered the position of programme and artistic director for Sziget Festival in Budapest. I was 30 and I thought ‘Oh my God!’ – this coat is really not my size. My size is S/M and that coat felt XXL.

But I listened to my inner voice. I knew that if I didn’t try, I would never know if I was capable. I can always fail, I told myself, but only after trying.

I’m so extremely happy that I was wise enough to listen to my inner voice, to have the support of my family, and to believe in myself.

If Elon Musk asked me to organise the first festival on Mars, I’d be up for the job

I’m so thankful for having gained such an enormous amount of experience in those seven years working at Sziget. Without which, I could have never taken the next huge challenge and worn the even bigger coat known as Lollapalooza Berlin.

Moving the Lolla festival site four years in a row allowed me to learn so much and overcome so many challenges. I must say that I’m very thankful for these experiences because now, if Elon Musk asked me to organise the first festival on Mars, I’d be up for the job.

I’m so grateful to have been able to work in such an amazing industry, to have colleagues from whom I can learn day by day, and to be part of an international festival family with like-minded humans that are rocking their own festivals every summer.

 


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