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IQ 104 out now: IFF, GEI, Steve Strange

IQ 104, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The October 2021 edition reflects on two of the industry’s best-known events, the International Festival Forum and the Green Events & Innovations conference – both of which returned last month.

The issue also pays homage to renowned booking agent and X-ray co-founder Steve Strange, who recently passed away.

Elsewhere, Adam Woods talks to some of the innovators behind contactless payment systems, IQ gets to grips with audience insights tools and Derek Robertson learns about the rollercoaster ride that suppliers have experienced during the pandemic.

For this edition’s columns and comments, IQ passes the mic to Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd, as well as Jürgen Schlensog and Sven Meyer from Jazzopen Stuttgart.

And, in this month’s Your Shout, we ask the industry how they would use an extra hour a day.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

IQ subscribers can log in and read the full magazine now.

 


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International Festival Forum 2021 marks a return to form

After 2020’s online-only version, the International Festival Forum (IFF) enjoyed a successful return to a physical event in late September, as more than 600 delegates registered for the event that focuses on booking agents and festivals.

Enthusiasm for IFF was evident at the opening party, hosted by UTA, where many delegates renewed acquaintances with colleagues they had not seen in the flesh since the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March 2020.

With agency partners reporting oversubscribed speed-meetings at their pop-up offices around Camden, the conference element included a number of pre-recorded sessions, covering such topics as Your Next Headliner – Climate Action; Festival Playground – the Future of Music Festivals; Festival Insurance in a Post-Pandemic World; and Counting the Cost of Brexit.

The keynote saw CAA’s Maria May interviewing Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn and FKP Scorpio founder Folkert Koopmans, who delivered an optimistic message about the future of the business.

“[Festival Republic] is starting new festivals in 2022… we’ve got to try and keep up with Folkert”

Both men noted that there had been no dialogue between the live music industry and the government prior to Covid, meaning much of the last 18 months had been spent educating politicians and persuading them to help support the business.

Quizzed by May about what could be done to help emerging talent, given that many festival line-ups have rolled over into 2022, Benn revealed that he would be launching new events next year. “I am starting new festivals in 2022,” he said.”I’ve always got to have at least one because I try to keep up with Folkert. So, we’ve got at least one or two next year, and that will give new talent the opportunity to start getting to play to a bigger audience.”

“When I hear that Melvin is doing two or three new festivals, we might do four,” quipped Koopmans. However, he admitted that staffing was a problem and along with spiralling costs it means there will be some tough choices to make, so establishing any new showcase festivals might have to wait.

But he predicted that not only will the 2022 season go ahead, but “It will be the biggest year ever. And I suppose the next years will just grow. I’m super optimistic.”

“There might not be a complete shutdown, but booking a European tour in February, at the height of flu season, will be a huge risk”

Benn concluded that the industry can also take a lead on sustainability. “Now it feels like everybody is on the same page – artists, managers, promoters, agents, suppliers and fans – and collectively there’s a lot we can do together and that needs to be one of the greatest collaborations that the music industry can continue with.”

Elsewhere, The Agency Business panel examined the recently announced CAA and ICM Partners acquisition, with panellists agreeing that the deal could provide opportunities for independent agencies, while former CAA staffer Jon Ollier admitted to being “fascinated” by the merger, noting that CAA will be determined to preserve the company’s culture.

And it was Ollier, now boss of One Fiinix Live, who shared his belief that one potential outcome of the Covid pandemic may be that the industry will lose its winter season. “There might not be a complete shutdown, but booking a European tour in February, at the height of flu season, will be a huge risk. So why not follow the sun around the globe to mitigate that risk?”

ATC Live head Alex Bruford noted that rebuilding consumer confidence would be a major challenge, while he predicted a more flexible approach to touring where acts may put on a series of arena dates at short notice as market conditions change.

“AEG’s Jim King called out the scandal of guest-list ticketing fall-off, which has been 40% on some shows”

The conference’s opener involved a Therapy Session where delegates shared stories from the past 18 months, alongside plans to rebuild and reopen their various markets for live events.

With Barnaby Harrod (Mercury Wheels) and Claire Courtney (Earth Agency) onstage to represent the different parts of the business, those in the room heard a number of tales, with arguably the most inspiring related by Georg Leitner of GLP, who revealed that Syrian refugees are being recruited by security firms in Germany to help that sector get back to full strength ahead of the 2022 season.

Paradigm’s Clementine Bunel, meanwhile, moderated The Roaring 20s? where she and her guests examined whether the rest of the decade could be a golden era for live music. And while the future could indeed be rosy, multiple challenges were identified, not the least of which will be sharp rises in ticket prices to cover spiralling costs – an issue that Lowlands Festival’s Eric van Eerdenburg warned could prevent young fans from attending.

And noting increased drop-off rates at recent live events throughout Europe, AEG’s Jim King called out the scandal of guest-list ticketing fall-off, which has been 40% on some shows, compared to 10-12% normally. “It’s outrageous,” he blasted.

The afternoon and evening programmes at IFF once again featured some of the hottest emerging talent on the rosters of ITB, Earth Agency, Paradigm, Primary Talent & ICM Partners, Marshall Live, X-ray Touring, and ATC Live, while Music Venue Trust used the occasion to bring down the curtain on their nationwide Revive Live Tour, as well as sponsoring the closing IFF party.


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Festival & agency worlds set to meet next week

There’s just a week to go until doors open for the International Festival Forum (IFF), the live music industry’s first major get-together since the pandemic.

While 600 delegates from 40 countries head to London from 28-30 September to meet in person, many more are joining online.

The invitation-only event for booking agents and festival bookers features showcase performances from artists represented by agencies including ITB, Earth Agency, Paradigm, Primary Talent and ICM Partners, Marshall Live, X-Ray, and ATC Live.

Among the conference panels will be a keynote talk where leading industry titans Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn and FKP Scorpio head Folkert Koopmans will be quizzed by Maria May, Head Of Electronic Music/International at CAA.

In the opening panel on 29 September, chair Gordon Masson will be joined by Claire Courtney from Earth Agency and Barnaby Harrod of Mercury Wheels @ Live Nation to discuss how the industry bounces back after the pandemic. Later that day, Clementine Bunel of Paradigm will be joined by Andy Duggan of WME, Jim King from AEG Presents, Martje Kremers of Primary Talent International / Decked Out! and Eric van Eerdenburg from Lowlands, to discuss what the future holds.

Before the keynote on 30 September, Live Nation’s Anna Sjölund will be joined by panellists Alex Bruford, ATC Live, Carlos Abreu from UTA, Cindy Castillo of Mad Cool Festival, and Jon Ollier from One Fiinix Live to discuss key issues for the agency business in the coming years.

Online-only discussions include topics such as the climate crisis, the future of music festivals, post-pandemic festival insurance, and Brexit.

There are a handful of tickets remaining. Get yours at iff.rocks.

 


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Benn, Koopmans line up for IFF 2021 keynote

Melvin Benn and Folkert Koopmans, two of Europe’s most successful festival promoters, have been announced for a unique double keynote interview at the International Festival Forum in London in September.

For the IFF Keynote, Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic, and Koopmans, who holds the same role at FKP Scorpio, will be interviewed by Maria May, head of electronic/international at CAA, who’ll quiz the two industry leaders on recent events, what shape the recovery will take and what comes next for the summer scene.

“Expect 60 minutes of deep insight and expertise,” say organisers, “in what is sure to be a standing-room only session” for which early arrival is strongly recommended.

After going online only in 2020, the International Festival Forum will return this September as a physical, non-socially distanced event, complemented by an online pass for delegates who are unable to travel.

The first major live music industry gathering in 18 months, IFF 2021 will kick off with the opening party on Tuesday 28 September and end late on Thursday 30 September. The invitation-only event for music festivals and booking agents will feature the usual mix of showcases, conference sessions, keynotes, pop-up up offices, networking events and more.

The two industry leaders will speak on recent events, what shape the recovery will take and what comes next for the summer scene

The first booking agency partners for IFF 2021 were announced earlier this month, with longstanding supporters United Talent Agency (UTA), X-ray Touring, Paradigm Talent Agency, ATC Live and Primary Talent International/ICM Partners all returning for 2021, while Earth Agency joins as a partner for the first year. All partner agencies will showcase their hottest new artists, festival-ready for 2022.

The provisional schedule for IFF, including details of conference panels, showcases and venues, is now live on the IFF website. Some 800 delegates, including all the major international music festivals and agents, are expected to attend this year’s IFF, which returns to Camden, north London, for the sixth year.

New for this year will be an online element which allows all delegates to watch back every conference session on demand for up to 30 days after the event. For anyone who can’t travel to London, meanwhile, an online-only registration is also available.

Over 120 music festivals have already confirmed their attendance at IFF 2021, with a quarter of tickets sold with nearly three months to go. Discounted summer rate passes for IFF, which include meals, drinks and more, are available now for £315, saving £30 on the late-summer rate. Click here for more info.

 


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Leading booking agencies line up for IFF 2021

The first booking agency partners have been announced for the 2021 edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF), which sees the must-attend event return to a physical format after taking place digitally last year.

Longstanding supporters United Talent Agency (UTA), X-ray Touring, Paradigm Talent Agency, ATC Live and Primary Talent International/ICM Partners all return for IFF 2021, while Earth Agency joins as a partner for the first year. All partner agencies will showcase their hottest new artists, festival-ready for 2022.

Further details of IFF 2021, including the provisional schedule and all conference/showcase venues, will be announced shortly. Some 800 delegates, including all the major international music festivals and agents, are expected to attend this year’s IFF, which returns to Camden, north London, for the sixth year.

After going online only in 2020, the International Festival Forum will return this September as a physical, non-socially distanced event, complemented by an online pass for delegates who are unable to travel.

Some 800 delegates, including all major international music festivals and agents, are expected to attend this year’s IFF

The first major live music industry gathering in 18 months, IFF 2021 will kick off with the opening party on Tuesday 28 September and end late on Thursday 30 September. The invitation event for music festivals and booking agents will feature the usual mix of showcases, conference sessions, keynotes, pop-up up offices, networking events and more.

New for this year will be an online element which allows all delegates to watch back every showcase and conference session on demand for up to 30 days after the event. For anyone who can’t travel to London, meanwhile, an online-only registration is also available.

Over 120 music festivals have already confirmed their attendance at IFF 2021, with a quarter of tickets sold with nearly three months to go. Discounted summer rate passes for IFF, which include meals, drinks and more, are available now for £315, saving £30 on the late summer rate. Click here for more info.

 


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Registration opens for physical IFF 2021

After going online only for last year, the International Festival Forum will return this September as a physical, non-socially distanced event in London, complemented by an online pass for delegates who are unable to travel.

The first major live music industry gathering in 18 months, IFF 2021 will kick off with the opening party on Tuesday 28 September and end late on Thursday 30 September. The invitation event for music festivals and booking agents will feature the usual mix of showcases, conference sessions, keynotes, pop-up up offices, networking events and more.

New for this year will be an online element which allows all delegates to watch back every showcase and conference session on demand for up to 30 days after the event. For anyone who can’t travel to London, meanwhile, an online-only registration is also available.

“It feels so good to go live with IFF and organise a real event after all these months of only meeting via screens,” says IFF co-founder Ruud Berends.

“It feels so good to go live with IFF and organise a real event”

“We can’t wait to welcome everybody in London – and to see everybody’s faces on the morning after the first night…”

More details of IFF 2021, including the provisional schedule, agency partners and conference/showcase venues, will be announced shortly. Some 800 delegates, including all the major international music festivals and agents, are expected to attend.

Discounted earlybird passes for IFF, which include meals, drinks and more, are available now for £275. Click here to register.

If you have an idea for a panel topic, speaker or presentation, please email Ruud Berends. To partner with IFF, contact Steve Woollett (+44 7469 872 279).

 


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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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