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FKP Scorpio festivals set advance ticket records

FKP Scorpio’s flagship Hurricane and Southside festivals in Germany have set advance booking records after putting tickets on sale for 2024.

Fans bought over 50,000 tickets on the first day of the presale, setting a new bar in the 20-plus-year history of the twin festivals in Scheeßel (Hurricane) and Neuhausen ob Eck (Southside), which have a combined capacity of 143,000.

Each batch of 10,000 tickets for the first price level of €199 sold out within just 20 minutes for both festivals, which will take place from 21-23 June next year. At the end of yesterday (20 June), more than 50,000 tickets has been snapped up, surpassing the record of 40,000 tickets sold on the first day from last year.

“This response means a lot to us personally, as we see it as a clear sign that our guests had a great time at Hurricane and Southside 2023,” says FKP founder and CEO Folkert Koopmans. “As we have not yet released any acts for the coming year, this result is also an enormous vote of confidence, which is perhaps even more valuable than any economic success.

“In any case, we will thank our guests with a great festival – the preparations for this are in full swing, so we will soon be in touch with the first acts for Hurricane and Southside 2024.”

“The fact that we were almost sold out in view of the current economic challenges makes us grateful and we consider it a vote of confidence”

The 2023 festivals, whose line-up included Muse, Die Ärzte, Placebo, Queens of the Stone Age, The 1975 and Loyle Carner, were held from 16-18 June and came close to selling out, according to organisers.

“We have a festival weekend behind us with the best weather and great music, which our guests turned into a euphoric and peaceful music festival,” FKP MD Stephan Thanscheidt tells Visions. “The fact that we were almost sold out in view of the current economic challenges makes us grateful and we consider it a vote of confidence from our guests.”

Elsewhere, Southside festival director Benjamin Hetzer praises the event’s sustainability initiatives.

“In addition to the fact that the festival went smoothly and our guests had a great time, I am very pleased that we are consistently developing further in the area of ​​sustainability,” he says. “We now cover more than 50% of our electricity needs from sustainable fixed electricity. In concrete terms, this means that we can operate the Green, Blue and Red Stages, as well as many other trades, with green electricity. Our investment in the local power grid has more than paid for itself.”

 


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FKP chief Folkert Koopmans talks supply and demand

FKP Scorpio chief Folkert Koopmans has given a new interview ahead of the promoter’s flagship Southside and Hurricane festivals in Germany this weekend.

Southside and Hurricane take place in Neuhausen ob Eck and the Eichenring motorcycle speedway in Scheessel, respectively, today until Sunday (16-18 June). Artists on the bill for the twin events include Muse, Die Ärzte, Placebo, Queens of the Stone Age, The 1975 and Loyle Carner.

Speaking to NDR, Koopmans says that ticket sales for the 78,000-cap Hurricane picked up strongly over the past few weeks.

“Friday will be sold out and Saturday and Sunday will be a little weaker,” he says. “But we’re talking about 1,000 to 2,000 tickets that are still missing. Compared to previous years, it was a bit unusual that we have still been able to sell very well, especially in the last few weeks. We didn’t expect that at the beginning of May.”

Koopmans defends the increase in ticket prices for Hurricane by €30 to €249 (Southside tickets have also gone up €10 to €259), pointing to rising production costs.

“The prices should be even higher if we look at the cost development”

“Actually, the prices should be even higher if we look at the cost development,” he argues. “But we’re also finding that people just don’t have more money, and it would probably hurt sales significantly if we took any more money. We always try to find a balance between income and expenses, and that becomes more difficult from year to year.

“I believe that with the Hurricane Festival we have a very strong brand that is also well established. But I believe that many smaller festivals in particular will suffer from this.”

He continues: “Ultimately, it is a supply-demand relationship. The ticket buyer ultimately has to decide what to spend on a ticket and must be very careful where to buy the tickets and at what premium. We will go on sale again next Tuesday with a price of €199 for a certain contingent and I believe that buyers will have quite an opportunity to buy these tickets at regular prices.”

Koopmans also doubles down on his recent claim that only 20% of festivals are still profitable, post-pandemic, partly attributing that forecast to artist fees.

“That partly has to do with the artists’ fees,” he says. “But you have to say that there was actually a relatively large turnaround about 10 years ago, because the artists no longer live on their [German performance rights organisation] GEMA income or the income they generate from record sales. Now it’s all the costs around it that make it up.”

 


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FKP boss laments ‘exploding’ festival costs

FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans has laid bare the post-pandemic financial struggles faced by festivals, estimating that only 20% are still profitable.

The company’s flagship Hurricane festival returns to the Eichenring motorcycle speedway in Scheessel, Germany for its landmark 25th edition from 16-18 June with acts such as Muse, Die Ärzte, Placebo, Queens of the Stone Age, The 1975 and Loyle Carner.

But in an interview with Kreiszeitung, Koopmans says the event lost money in 2022 despite selling out – and warns the sector is being “overwhelmed” by spiralling costs.

“The fact that we didn’t make any money with a sold-out Hurricane in 2022, but actually lost it, was of course also due to the fact that we had basically sold the tickets three years earlier,” he points out. “But since all festivals are now being overwhelmed by the costs, I believe that in the end only 20% of them will still be making money. This problem was already indicated in 2016/17, but after corona it got particularly bad.

“Of course, like our other festivals, we don’t want to give up the Hurricane, because ultimately they are important, they’re part of the portfolio and, in addition, they’re building up a lot of bands. But as I said, it’s a problem, and we’re monitoring further developments very closely in view of the growing demands everywhere.

“We’re struggling with it, trying to keep the costs under control. But it’s incredibly difficult. Of course, we also have an extremely high break-even point. And my company now earns money primarily from the big concerts, for example from the Rolling Stones or Ed Sheeran.”

“On average, we have a cost increase of 30% across the board – this also applies to groceries, leases and stages”

He adds that the days of top acts being able to generate more income from festivals than their own headline shows are over.

“It was just very interesting for a band to play at festivals,” he says. “That was the business where you made money. For example, the band played their own shows for €10,000, but then got €50,000 at the festival. Today it’s the other way around – we have to fight at the festivals while they make more money at their own shows.”

And while organisers have raised average ticket price to €249 for this year’s event, Koopmans says that was cancelled out by other factors.

“The price should have been much higher – and not just because of the more expensive bands,” he says. “On average, we have a cost increase of 30% across the board – this also applies to groceries, leases and stages.”

Koopmans says there is no chance of the 78,000-cap festival growing further, and was more likely to become smaller due to the diversification of the festival landscape.

“But of course I also have the cost pressure,” he adds. “Let’s assume that I would limit the festival to 70,000 visitors and thus sell 8,000 fewer tickets – then I would have the problem that I would lose 8,000 times the income. So it’s not that simple. So we’ll have to see where this all goes, whether, for example, more people are willing to spend even more money for more luxury and comfort. That might be the way.”

 


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The New Bosses 2021: Talissa Buhl, FKP Scorpio

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Paris Harding, promoter at SJM, UK, here.

Born and raised in Oldenburg, Germany, Talissa Buhl always wanted to live in Hamburg, where she has been for the past nine years. After leaving school, she travelled through Australia and New Zealand, and then decided that rather than studying, she wanted to do something more hands-on.

She secured an apprenticeship at Kontor Records but her main interest was always the live music business. Indeed, Buhl recalls being at Hurricane Festival in 2010, and realising she’d love to work behind the scenes. Six years later, she started working with FKP’s festival booking team, booking Hurricane (among many other festivals), and now she leads the team.


Do you think working on the record label side of the business helped you in your career on the festivals side?
The entertainment industry is not one dimensional. It’s important to try to have a good understanding and knowledge of the landscape we work in, in its entirety.

I’d applied for an apprenticeship at FKP before I worked at Kontor Records but didn’t get the job at the time. This was the best thing that could’ve happened because in the end working at the label gave me enough experience to get a proper job in the festival department.

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
More diversity within the industry, and on festival bills. There’s still room for improvement and the whole industry needs to be aware of its responsibilities. It’s incredibly important to be proactive and not reactive on this subject. We must include diversity in our conversations from the start of the process, whether that’s booking a festival or hiring staff.

“It’s incredibly important to be proactive and not reactive with more diversity within the industry, and on festival bills”

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Getting to where I am now is something that I’m proud of as someone who didn’t have any family members or friends working in the music business – and especially as a woman in a very male-dominated industry. I remember being at Hurricane Festival in 2010, saying that I’d love to know what it might be like working behind the scenes of such a big festival. Six years later, in 2016, I started at FKP’s festival booking team, actually booking Hurricane festival (among many other festivals), now even leading the team.

What are you most looking forward to as the pandemic restrictions are lifted?
I can’t wait to be in front of a stage again to experience live music and to witness the actual result of my work. I’m also really looking forward to being able to meet friends and family again without having to worry too much about restrictions. Just like it was before the pandemic, but hopefully with some improvements!

“The biggest challenge FKP Scorpio and I has been finding a Covid-clause for the contracts that everyone can agree to”

What’s the biggest challenge for you and the FKP Scorpio team in the year ahead?
Honestly, probably something really boring such as finding a Covid-clause for the contracts that everyone can agree to. Other than that, we need to be able to adapt to the ever-changing landscape around us. We have to be aware of possible cancellations and have solutions in our back pocket so that we can keep fans and artists happy.

We’ve heard a lot about the closer collaboration between agents and promoters during the past year. What’s your experience of that been, and how do you see it developing as the business reopens?
I have really enjoyed getting to know more agents on a more personal level and sharing our experiences when we speak, rather than just talking about festival slots and arguing over money or billing. I hope that’s something we can maintain!

What advice would you give to anyone who is trying to find a job in live music?
You don’t need to go a conventional road (e.g. university). Your network and patience are way more important. Always trust your gut and don’t forget to take holidays. You have to take care of your own mental health and be mindful of those around you.

 


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