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650 attend virtual International Festival Forum 2020

The sixth International Festival Forum wrapped up yesterday evening, bringing to a close two days of networking, discussion and showcases attended by more than 650 delegates across the world.

The ongoing impact of Covid-19 meant IFF was this year held as a special one-off digital edition – the Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) – with the absence of the space constraints presented by IFF’s traditional north London home allowing for more festival organisers and booking agents to attend than ever before.

Featuring 65 guest speakers, six hours of livestreamed showcases by leading booking agencies, and a range of opportunities for networking and meeting, iFF 2020 brought the international festival community together after the most difficult summer in memory.

Highlights of the conference sessions included a much-talked-about keynote by Marc Geiger, in which he predicted a ‘Roaring Twenties’-style recovery for live post-2022, and ‘Ticket Prices, Artist Fees & Deals’, which discussed the changing face of deals and contracts with CAA’s Emma Banks, Paradigm’s Marty Diamond and FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans.

iFF 2020 delegates can watch back any session, including panels and showcase gigs, on the virtual iFF portal

Elsewhere, ‘The Big Rebuild: Festivals bounce back’ welcomed CAA’s Maria May, AEG’s Jim King, WME’s Russell Warby, Rock in Rio’s Roberta Medina and Belgian festival legend Herman Schueremans; while ‘Artist Development: The Lost Year‘ looked at the impact on artists of the industry shutdown in March with Rauha Kyyrö, Matt Bates and others.

Other panels, workshops and presentations tackled topics including force majeure and refunds, virtual festivals, corporate upheaval, sustainability, risk, insurance and more.

IFF 2020 delegates can watch back any session, including panels and showcase gigs, for the next week on the virtual iFF portal.

IFF, the leading global platform for booking agents and festival organisers, will return to London next year.

 


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iFF day 2: LIVE highlights from the Interactive Festival Forum

The second and final day of the sixth International Festival Forum takes place today, welcoming over 500 of the world’s leading festival organisers and booking agents for a special one-off virtual edition of the annual networking event.

The renamed Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) also features 65 guest speakers and performances from 30 emerging artists during six hours of agency livestreams. Day two of iFF includes sessions on artist development, insurance, the independent sector, corporate relationships and more, following yesterday’s event, which concluded with a fascinating keynote by Marc Geiger.

Click here to view the full conference schedule.

Tickets for iFF 2020, which include seven days’ worth of access to watch sessions back after the event, are still available and can be bought during the event, and . To register, or for more information, click here.


17.00
Cocktails on Zoom! Courtesy of our friends at Wide Days. Click here to join and be in with a chance to win an IFF 2021 ticket.

https://twitter.com/widedays/status/1301542780662165506

 

16.00
The day’s programming wrapped up with the light-hearted This is Why We Do It panel, which welcomed Superbloom MD Fruzsina Szép, Glastonbury booker Martin Elbourne, Paradigm’s Alex Hardee, film mega-agent Duncan Heath and chair Anna Sjolund (LN Sweden) to trade funny moments, bizarre situations and tall touring tales.

Delegates in attendance heard about Hardee’s run-in with a septic tank, Elbourne dining with sealions, Szép being a hedgehog midwife and the reason why Heath only lasted six months at the original William Morris Agency…

“A lot of independents are in a very good position to ride this out”

15.00
Shifting Landscapes: Covid’s effect on corporate relationships explored whether the current spirit of industry cooperation and bonhomie will last into the post-pandemic world.

AEG Presents France’s Arnaud Meersseman isn’t so sure:  “At the start of this I think everyone thought that the industry is going to be completely different, but I feel that we’re already started to get back into normal practices. It feels like we’re back to, ‘You need to push the guarantee, you need to up the ticket price…’”

Alex Bruford of ATC Live said, regardless of the outcome, the relationships that are built on trust will survive the coronavirus. With those people, he said “if you get on the phone to them, 99 times out of 100 you can reach an amicable solution.”

“Most people have been very very reasonable,” added Meersseman. “Your relationships pre-exist and you keep on building them. I haven’t felt any pressure or disrespect or anything else like that.”

“The camaraderie has been great, the discussions among ourselves have been great,” added Theresho Selesho of South Africa’s Matchbox Live, “but we need to [do more than that: We need to] band together, and set up actual legal entities that can represent our voices and engage with the government.”

With discussion moving on to wider changes in the business, UTA agent Sophie Roberts spoke about new challengers coming to market, such as FKP Scorpio UK and Ireland’s Singular Artists, and their potential to “challenge the monopoly” of the existing major players.

More agencies, meanwhile, is “good news”, added Bruford, providing “more routes to market for the talent.” “More competition keeps us at the top of our game,” continued Roberts.

In France, said Meersseman, another development is promoters reinventing themselves as managers, mirror similar changes in the film industry.

“A lot of independents are in a very good position to ride this out,” said Bruford, given they don’t have “massive offices and high overheads”. Selesho agreed, adding that in South Africa many companies are partnering up to do bigger shows jointly. “That’s going to be a big trend,” he said.

12.00
Running an independent festival or agency is difficult at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic – so Survival Stories: The Independents checked in with some mainstays of the independent sector to find out how they are weathering the Covid-19 storm.

One of the major lessons of the crisis is the need for independent firms to join a representative body, said Progressive Artists’ Rob Gibbs, with the Mighty Hoopla’s Jamie Tagg agreeing on the festival side, saying it had recently joined the Association of Independent Festivals to get a “direct link” to those making decisions that affect the industry.

Tagg said while coronavirus has been “an awful time for all”, one positive is that there has been “goodwill across the board. No one’s really been a dick about deposits or things like that.”

“I was in the industry a long time ago when promoters didn’t like agents, and agents didn’t like promoters, but now people share, and that’s so encouraging,” confirmed chair Gill Tee (Black Deer Festival).

Both Tee and Bella Concerts founder Isabelle Pfeifer spoke of their optimism that festivals will return bigger and better than ever when the Covid-19 threat has passed, with Pfiefer joking: “I’ve been in the music industry since I left school – I don’t know what else I could do!”

MetalDays booker Nika Brunet spoke of the importance of the “positivity and words of encouragement” from both fans and the industry to keeping the sector going during the current crisis. “We see how eager people are to get back, and that keeps us going,” she said.

11.00
The day’s first workshop, Insurance & Covid-19, did what it said on the tin, inviting MIB’s Steven Howell, Tysers’ Tim Thornhill and Sound Channel UK’s Karina Ann Gaertner to reflect on the 2020 festival season and shine a light on what promoters might expect from their insurance policies from 2021 onwards.

Howell spoke about the lack of consistency on pay-outs this summer, explaining: “The reason for that is simple: The underwriters can’t afford to pay the claims. One said to me that they paid out every claim it would cost a billion pounds and bankrupt the insurer.”

Thornhill explained that the impact on insurance policies worldwide is now estimated at US$2bn, with the speakers warning that premiums are going to go up post-Covid for those insurers who still offer cancellation cover.

However, Howell was upbeat about 2021, saying it should become easier to secure public liability insurance for events taking place next year. “We’re only 3–4 months into pandemic and we’re running events successfully now,” he said, “so I’m extremely confident that the social distancing requirements and any other pandemic protocols will be less and less, and it will be easier to obtain cover.”

“You’re not being left behind here: you’re all in the same boat”

10.00
The second session saw Primavera Sound booker Fra Soler, Primary Talent partner Matt Bates, Fullsteam founder Rauha Kyyrö and X-ray agent Beckie Sugden join Big Bear Management’s Bernadette Barrett for Artist Development: The Lost Year, which looked at the impact on artists of the industry shutdown in March.

With both festivals represented booking many international headliners – Soler said Primavera is 60–70% non-domestic acts – panellists also spoke on the difficulties presented by potential restrictions on global travel into next year. “It will be difficult for artists to build their careers like they were planning to,” said Kyyrö, with Soler adding that the “local scene is the only thing you can develop right now.”

Bates said it’s the medium-sized artists, for whom “touring is their living”, who are being hit hardest by the pause on concerts.

However, there are new opportunities, said Sugden, who added that she’s signed many artists during the pandemic, including a TikTok star. “I don’t know if that’s something I would have done if not for lockdown,” she explained.

“From a management perspective, a lot of this comes down to the artist,” added Barrett, referencing Sugden’s signing. “As agents, promoter, managers, we can’t do anything without them being creative in the first place.”

Soler said it’s important to urge artists to be “creative and try and put out as much stuff as possible”, though Bates warned that livestreaming can be expensive, when taking into account costs for crew and rehearsal times.

One thing to remember, though, is that the pandemic has affected everyone equally – and everyone will be able to benefit when concerts restart – said Bates. “I keep trying to hammer home to my artists that you’re not being left behind here: you’re all in the same boat.”

9.00
Day two of iFF 2020 kicked off a workshop, Sustainability Beyond 2020, hosted by A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill and Go Group’s Holger Jan Schmidt, which looked at how the business can restart in a greener way than pre-pandemic.

In a packed early morning session (around 150 people tuned in, including delegates from LA, where the local time was 1–2am), the veteran eco-campaigners tackled issues including the environmental impact of the internet, why drive-in concerts are problematic and the ongoing need to minimise the use of plastics, while highlighting notable socially distanced events, including the recent Electricity festival in Germany.

The session poll showed that festival professionals consider green issues to be important, even amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis; 85% of those who voted said it’s a “necessity” that people engage in international campaigns for climate activism.

 


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Marc Geiger: Covid-19 will give way to the Roaring (20)20s

Marc Geiger has predicted a boom time for live entertainment after the threat of Covid-19 recedes, saying the current “claustrophobia economy” will give way to a second ‘Roaring Twenties’ marked by high consumer confidence and economic growth.

WME’s former global head of music, who was speaking during today’s iFF Keynote, compared the current coronavirus pandemic to the Spanish flu, which gripped the world from 1918–20, killing an estimated 50m people. Years of “everyone being cooped up at home”, he said, “created a joyous time called the Roaring Twenties, and I think 2022” – his estimate for when the current pandemic will subside – “will give way to a second Roaring Twenties, 100 years later.”

The prediction by Geiger – an executive renowned for spotting music business trends – will be welcomed by live music industry professionals, nearly 600 of which are attending the virtual Interactive Festival Forum on 2 and 3 September. The keynote interview, conducted by Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang, ended the first day of iFF conference programming on an optimistic note, and also touched on the incredible growth of music streaming and Yang’s predictions for the concert sector’s post-coronavirus recovery.

Yang said that she believes that global industry has lost around 75% of its value this year, but will recover to around 65% of its pre-Covid level in 2021. The recovery will likely be complete in 2022, she added.

In the mid-term, Yang continued, the outlook is uncertain. “It’s going to be tough,” she said. “There are so many external factors that no one can control. But from a structural perspective, I think the industry is going to come back – it’s not a question of if, but when.”

“Everyone who’s suffering right now: if you can hold on, the bumper crop will be significant”

Speaking to iFF delegates, Geiger compared the festival business to a field of crops (“I always analogise,” he said) and factors such as rising ticket prices and supposedly samey line-ups as taking nutrients out of that field. By 2022 – after two disrupted festival seasons – “everyone will be screaming to get out” of their houses, he explained, so those who are able to survive until then will reap a “bumper crop” in the renewed soil.

He urged those who can to put in place funding to ensure they are able to capitalise when social distancing is a thing of a past. “Everyone who’s suffering right now, if you can hold on – whether it’s through financing, debt, equity – the bumper crop will be significant,” he urged. “Figure out how to bridge your way until the industry comes back.”

“The market is going to come back at a very, very vast clip,” Geiger added, “and […] when it comes back rate of return will be huge.

“We’re going to see more blow-outs and sell-outs, and huge consumer interest. It’ll be one of few times in history the customer will buy a beer or a hot dog, and they’ll feel good about standing in line! And that beer will never have tasted so good.”

“Tell your audience you are NOT coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate festival experience”

Geiger ran out of time for audience questions, but kindly answered some after the session…

IQ: You talked about “When it comes back, it will come back huge” and there being a “bumper crop”. What would be your advice for both festival organisers and agents on riding out the next 12 months and preparing for the Roaring 20s?
Produce a virtual festival in 2021. Tell your audience you are NOT coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate (festival name) experience. Get a sideshow strategy together if you don’t already have one. Go talk to sponsors and get serious about your at-home audience. Raise your ticket prices!!!!

With the deals getting bigger, is there a role for independent promoters and agents, and those smaller independent festivals in the roaring 20s?
HELL YES!!! Bigger than ever! The big promoters have to focus on BIG shows with real profits….They won’t touch the small stuff or be able to after the cutbacks/ layoffs etc… Biggest opportunity EVER.

You talked about “trillion-dollar time” deals, while the concert business is 95-98% down depending on results. With the deals getting astronomically bigger, and growth of streaming accelerating, is the live sector going to become a smaller pawn on a bigger board?
Could happen but Live Nation, AEG and CTS Eventim will insure some pure play aspect of the business. Lot’s of indies will never sell out to bad corporate interests but let’s see.

You mentioned a relatively low number of big players in the live space, but there being room for more. Who could you see entering it over the next 2 years?
One never knows….Could come from anywhere.

Where are the best opportunities in music right now?
Wow, they are everywhere as the music business is getting bigger….that’s too big of a question and answer for me but the deeper you look and think, the more opportunity there is…

“Tell your audience you are not coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate festival experience”

Tickets for iFF 2020 are still available, and all sessions will be accessible to watch back online for seven days after the event ends. To buy yours, visit the iFF website.

 


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Live highlights from Interactive Festival Forum

The sixth International Festival Forum kicks off today, welcoming over 500 of the world’s leading festival organisers and booking agents for a special one-off virtual edition of the annual networking event.

The renamed Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) also features 65 guest speakers and performances from 30 emerging artists during six hours of agency livestreams.

The iFF 2020 conference programme includes a keynote interview with former WME head of music Marc Geiger, in conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang, along with panels, workshops and presentations on ticket prices & artist fees, force majeure and refunds, virtual festivals, the lost year of artist development, corporate upheaval, sustainability, risk, insurance and more.

Companies participating in sessions include Glastonbury Festival, Primavera Sound, CAA, Festival Republic, AEG, Live Nation, Paradigm, Roskilde Festival and WME.

Click here to view the full conference schedule.

Tickets for iFF 2020 are still available and can be bought during the event. To register, or for more information, click here.

 


 

Day 1 of IFF concluded with WME’s former head of global music Marc Geiger talking to Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang for the conference’s keynote interview.

Geiger – an executive renowned for spotting music business trends – shared predictions about the live industry’s recovery, as well as thoughts on the livestreaming model, the boom in world music, and outside capital’s growing interest in the music industry.

Read more from the interview here.

 


 

Some of the industry’s leading figures discussed issues surrounding Ticket Prices, Artist Fees & Deals on the panel led by ILMC managing director Greg Parmley.

Emma Banks, board member and London co-head at CAA, kicked off the panel by commending festival organisers who were forced to cancel their events this summer: “Generally, the live industry did really well under difficult circumstances, considering we’ve never dealt with anything like this before.”

“Frankly, I think it was lucky we were in March, rather the May, when [the industry] would’ve been further down the line,” she added.

This sentiment was echoed by Marty Diamond, head of global music at Paradigm agency, who said: “Everyone has tried to approach this with the best intention. The wealth of creative ideas isn’t stopping. I’m really encouraged by people’s resilience and adaptability.”

Folkert Koopmans, MD of FKP Scorpio, is one such professional who managed to weather the storm and is now looking forward to next year.

Koopmans told delegates how within one week FKP rebooked all bills for next year. “We know if we communicate with people, they stay with us. So we directly contacted all agents and managers and confirmed the same deal and same slot for next year.”

He says 85% of fans stuck with their tickets for next year’s event – “events are hotter than ever”.

While the panel expressed optimism for the year ahead and confidence in fans’ hunger to return to live events, the trio addressed the logistics that face an industry trying to “rise from the flames”.

Diamond highlighted the challenge of booking global tours when there’s likely to be discrepancies between venues’ protocols and capacities.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of adaptabilities required. There are going to be a lot of moving parts to this. We’re going to have to collectively put our heads together and find solutions,” he says.

Koopmans says that for new tours FKP is trying to put in a miscellaneous clause to allow for changes.

“We’ll be adding 10-15% per tour in case things become more expensive or companies aren’t available. Labour is a big issue in Germany – it was before Covid. Most of the sound and lighting companies are bankrupt,” he says.

Tours aside, Banks says that when it comes to festivals, organisers don’t need to overcompensate with booking more acts, they just need to “do what they do well”.

 


 

First up for the Soapbox Sessions: Five in 55 was Deer Shed director and AIF member Kate Webster, who delivered a presentation on the socially-distanced, camping weekender Deer Shed Basecamp – based in North Yorkshire, UK.

“The creative aspects, delivering the essence of deer shed and managing expectations of our audience took a lot of thought,” said Webster during AIF presents: Touching Base.

“We asked ourselves: how could we offer our audience a taste of Deer Shed whilst adhering to social distancing rules?” she said.

Webster went on to explain the festival’s concept which involved broadcasting live music through FM, to each family’s pitch in the parkland. She says the site comprised of 320 150-metre square pitches, each with its own portaloo and space to park a car.

“Tickets immediately sold out. People were supportive from the off,” she reported. “Financially, the turnover was only 8 per cent of what we would’ve taken in an average year but it went some way to making up for the losses in 2020.”

Next up, Tim O’Brien – professor at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester (the site of AIF member festival Bluedot) reprised a much-loved talk, AIF presents: Sounds of Space.

O’Brien discussed signals from spacecraft at the dawn of the space age, mixed with the rhythmic beats of pulsars, black holes and the Big Bang.

Vivid Interface’s Geoff Dixon “brought us back down to earth” with Getting Back to Work: The Fan’s Perspective, with exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months.

Among the key findings of Dixon’s research was that 43% of those surveyed said they thought it was okay to visit outdoor music festival now lockdowns have ended. However, 50% answered “I really want to go to a music festival but will need more information about Covid-19 before deciding”.

ROSTR co-founder and CEO, Mark Williamson delivered the final presentation, The Agency World in Numbers.

Williamson has surveyed 650 companies that do some kind of booking, 1,700 individual agents and over 15,000 unique artists that are represented. He found that of the 10 biggest agencies, the number of artists represented vastly ranges. Paradigm, at number one, represents 2,591 artists – seven times more than Ground Control, at number 10, which represents 397.

He also found that Alt/Rock/Indie was the most common genre of the artists signed to the 100 largest agencies – almost double the number of artists than the next most genre, Dance/Electronic (37% and 16% respectively).

And finally, ROSTR found that of the solo artists signed to the top 100 agencies, an overwhelming 67% are male, while only 33% are female or non-binary.

 


 

Refunds, Deposits & Force Majeure kicked off with panellists discussing whether the terms and conditions of Force Majeure clauses have served its purpose.

Ben Challis, general counsel at Glastonbury Festival says, upon the reflection, he doesn’t think it has.

“There is no standard definition of force majeure. It’s a construct of contract lawyers, not politicians. So it’s not a matter of interpretation, it’s a matter of what’s included.”

UTA agent James Wright says confusion around contracts has done nothing to instil confidence in his clientele.

“When there’s ambiguity over the paperwork and the interpretation of the clauses – certainly when you’re talking about decreasing revenue and the like – that’s where it gets very challenging for an artist to feel safe, and insure against it from either side.”

While Peter Elliott, agent at Primary Talent International, says insurers have generally been quite good during the pandemic but looking to the future, some things need to change.

“They’ve covered us for this summer, but not next year. We’re still in the middle of it. We need to have Covid things within force majeure.”

Tamás Kádár, CEO at Sziget Festival says he’s not had any issues with deposits but says next year that’ll depend more on trust.

“There’s is a lot of learnings from the past couple of months. In the beginning, everyone was in the same boat. Now we’ve come to the next phase, when everyone starts to prepare for the next agreements and the lawyers come in to play, it should be a rational approach.”

Challis continued that sentiment, saying: “We need to figure out a way to solve these issues together. Acknowledging that everyone has costs and larger companies can absorb more.”

 


 

Virtual Events: Lost Horizon & Wireless Connect/Download TV heard Emily Scoggins, head of marketing and PR at Festival Republic, share the success of Download TV, this year’s virtual version of the festival.

“We’re really proud of the event we’ve achieved. We’re now focused on using our newly bolstered YouTube audience and speaking to our new audience on Twitch,” says Scoggins.

Scoggins then passed the baton to colleague Lucy Carter, digital content producer at Festival Republic, who took delegates through the organisation of Wireless Connect.

The virtual reality edition of  Wireless Festival was available for one weekend only in 360​° immersive virtual ​reality on smartphones and VR headsets via the MelodyVR app.

“The audience loved the experience,” says Carter. “There was a constant stream of chatter in the YouTube chat and artists were also interacting – all while the festival was streamed. It had a real live energy to it,” she says.

Chris Tofu MBE and Rob Collins from Lost Horizon Festival, then discussed creating a temporary venue, monetizing the virtual event, and connecting with a bigger audience for their virtual edition.

“Virtual reality is as far as you can go in terms of live streaming and connecting with your audience. The result of us doing Lost Horizons virtually was 4 million individual views and the links are still being watched now,” said Tofu.

 


 

CAA agent Maria May led The Big Rebuild: Festivals bounce back panel, where speakers debated the lack of confidence in the return of live events next year.

Jim King, CEO of European festivals at AEG Presents, says he thinks the UK has a “huge confidence issue” that won’t subside until the industry has united and created a fool-proof plan.

“We, as an industry, need to show that we have mitigated risk on every level. Then we need to deliver that plan in a unified tone, with a level of confidence that translates to artists and fans. Until then, we’re just pushing the same piece of paper around the table. I don’t think we’re ready yet but we will be by next summer,” he says.

Russell Warby, partner and agent at WME, says he’s already experienced the spirit of cooperation King is hoping for.

“Promoters and agents are talking more than they ever have done about practical things, not just fees. We do stick behind the promoters. They’re going to be on the frontline. We represent the artists but we’re led by what’s happening in front of us,” he says.

However, Herman Schueremans, CEO at Live Nation Belgium/ Rock Werchter, agreed with King, saying: “It’s about trying to create the right moment at the right time.”

In regards to Belgium’s live industry, Schueremans believes the key to confidence lies in lobbying the audience.

“The suggestion is that – as all the concert goers are very loyal – let’s contact them and say if you want to go to festivals next year, you will have to get tested on the day of the event,” he says, adding that 15 and 30-minute Covid tests will be available in the coming months.

Schueremans is optimistic about the global industry’s return to live and its ability to solve problems: “We are not amateurs. We are a strong and constructive business.”

This stoicism was echoed by Roberta Medina from Rock in Rio who added: “Society is mature enough to find solutions fast.”

 


 

Workshop: New Threat, New Risks opens the conference with chair Pascal Viot, from Paléo Festival Nyon, declaring that from a health and safety viewpoint “we are all in a very confused position”.

“We are having to consider next year’s festivals on strategic, political and operational levels,” Viot told delegates.

Coralie Berael, director at Forest National Arena, agreed but added that public opinion is also a critical factor for next year’s return to live.

“We are getting through at a political level now but it’s also important that the public opinion evolves regarding what we do too. At the end of the day, we can talk politics and strategy but in this crisis, there is an individual engagement and responsibility that is different from dealing with the standard risks. It’s up to everybody to adhere to new measures,” she says.

Beral’s point prompted a discussion about whether it should be a festival’s responsibility to provide masks and temperature checks.

Nick Morgan, We Are The Fair, responded with: “We can only make suggestions. We shouldn’t have to inherit the costs. If people feel vulnerable or at risk, they shouldn’t attend festivals.”

Morten Therkildsen, head of security, health and safety at Roskilde festival agreed, saying festivals shouldn’t have to bear the burden when there are so many other hurdles to clear.

“We need to make the finance work, book the artist, ensure travelling is possible, get the right staff and secure the money to sell tickets. Also, the brand needs to come first. Do we want to run Roskilde with social distancing? No, we don’t want to follow Newcastle’s Virgin Money Unity Arena model,” he says.

However, all panellists agree that the opinion of health experts needs to play a bigger part in order to avoid mixed messages to the public.

Henrik Bondo Nielsen, head of safety and service at Roskilde festival, says: “We must find some experts who can ensure the health aspect can be properly taken into consideration. We need to make a strong chain with health experts and combine with our knowledge about having many people together, and try and create an alternative to making restrictions. Our industry needs to work together and to join forces.”

 


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Festival business gears up for biggest-ever IFF

The sixth International Festival Forum kicks off tomorrow morning (2 September), welcoming over 500 of the world’s leading festival organisers and booking agents for a special one-off virtual edition of the annual networking event.

The renamed Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) also features 65 guest speakers and performances from 30 emerging artists during six hours of agency livestreams.

“This year’s edition has the strongest line-up of speakers and sessions of any IFF,” says conference co-founder Ruud Berends, “and with networking and deal-making such a key focus of the new virtual format, it’s going to be an extremely productive moment for the festival business to come together.”

The iFF 2020 conference programme includes a keynote interview with former WME head of music Marc Geiger, in conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang, along with panels, workshops and presentations on ticket prices & artist fees, force majeure and refunds, virtual festivals, the lost year of artist development, corporate upheaval, sustainability, risk, insurance and more.

“This year’s edition has the strongest line-up of speakers and sessions of any IFF”

Companies participating in sessions include Glastonbury Festival, Primavera Sound, CAA, Festival Republic, AEG, Live Nation, Paradigm, Roskilde Festival and WME.

Click here to view the full conference schedule.

Alongside the two-day conference programme, iFF features a series of hour-long live streams of performances from upcoming artists, curated and presented by Paradigm Talent Agency, Primary Talent International, UTA, X-ray Touring, Solo Agency and ITB. Several agencies are also hosting Networking Lounges during the event.

Tickets for iFF 2020 are still available and can be bought during the event. To register, or for more information, click here.

 


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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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Marc Geiger confirmed for IFF 2020 keynote

Marc Geiger, WME’s former worldwide head of music, has been announced as this year’s IFF Keynote, in conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang.

News of the conversation comes as a host of leading figures line up to speak, and leading booking agencies Paradigm, Primary Talent International and Solo Agency announce dedicated livestream showcases of rising stars.

In light of the current Covid-19 crisis, IFF 2020, the sixth International Festival Forum, will run online as the Interactive Festival Forum (iFF), a two-day online event, from 2 to 3 September. The conference will see hundreds of festival and agency professionals congregate for panel discussions, workshops, networking and deal-making.

The keynote conversation between Geiger – who left WME earlier this year after building the agency’s music division into a global powerhouse – and Lang is expected to cover major disruptors, innovation and change over the next few years. Other topics in the iFF programme include ticket prices and artist fees, force majeure and refunds, virtual festivals, the lost year of artist development, corporate upheaval, sustainability, risk, insurance and more.

Speakers to have already announced their involvement include Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Martin Elbourne (Glastonbury), Maria May (CAA), Jim King and Arnaud Meersseman (AEG Presents), Roberta Medina (Rock in Rio), Peter Elliott and Matt Bates (Primary Talent), Fruzsina Szep, Fra Soler (Primavera Sound) and Tamas Kadar (Sziget).

“IFF remains an important moment to bring the music festival and agency sectors together”

“Even as a virtual edition, IFF remains an important moment to bring the music festival and agency sectors together,” says Paradigm director and agent James Whitting. “There’s no shortage of great new artists to showcase, and after the lost summer, a huge amount to talk about.

“If anything, this year is more vital than ever.”

Paradigm is one of the agencies to host a livestreamed showcase as part of the iFF schedule, produced in partnership with Livefrom.events. Primary Talent International and Solo Agency are also among those presenting upcoming artists.

The sixth edition of the event is backed by festival associations including Yourope, the Association of Independent Festivals, and De Concert!.

Companies to have already confirmed attendance include 13 Artists, ATC Live, Black Deer Live, BPM Concerti, Charmenko, Cobra Agency, Electric Castle, FKP Scorpio, Fullsteam Agency, Gadget ABC Entertainment, ICM Partners, Lost Horizon Festival, Matchbox Live, MetalDays Festival, Mojo Concerts, Paléo Festival Nyon, Roskilde Festival, TAKK, The Talent Boutique, Vertigo, Wacken Open Air & X-ray Touring.

More details about the IFF Keynote can be found here, while the full conference schedule is here.

 


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Interactive Festival Forum: IFF goes virtual for 2020

In light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, this year’s International Festival Forum will be held online format as the first Interactive Festival Forum (iFF), organisers have announced.

IFF, the leading global platform for booking agents and festival bookers, is traditionally held in London in early autumn, as conversations about next year’s festival line-ups begin. However, amid continued concern over the spread of Covid-19, the sixth IFF will become the debut iFF, streaming live on 2 and 3 September 2020.

“We’ve left the decision as late as possible, but with ongoing restrictions around Covid-19 in place taking IFF online this year was the only option,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley.

“Fortunately, with so many vital topics to discuss right now, this new format allows more professionals than ever to participate in the conversation.”

The new iFF will invite hundreds of festival and agency professionals from around the world to congregate for two days of discussion, networking and festival booking.

“With so many vital topics to discuss right now, this new format allows more professionals than ever to participate in the conversation”

While attendance at IFF is typically limited by its invitation-only attendance policy and restrictions in physical venue capacity, this year’s virtual edition means colleagues and professionals from around the world can congregate in larger numbers.

The iFF conference programme will cover the breadth of the international festival scene, from artist development and the roles of agents to sector recovery ideas and new income streams. Alongside the discussion and workshops, meanwhile, will sit the ever-popular iFF networking lounge and targeted speedmeetings for new introductions.

The provisional iFF 2020 schedule is online now, with details of all panels, workshops, quickfire Soapbox Sessions, networking events and more.

In order to allow as many people as possible to attend this unique, one-off edition of IFF, tickets are priced at £50 for both festivals and agents. Click here to register or for more information on iFF 2020 tickets.

The sold-out IFF 2019 took place in Camden, London, last 24–26 September.

 


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