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Fuji Rock to welcome back international acts

Japanese festival Fuji Rock is to welcome back international artists after two years of prohibitive Covid measures.

The Smash Corporation festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, the promoter was forced to replace its typical international bill with a completely domestic line-up.

Attendees of last year’s event had to abide by an extensive list of prohibitions which included raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations during the performances’.

Other international artists on the line-up include Dinosaur Jr, Syd, Arlo Parks, Black Pumas, Tom Misch and Mura Masa

This year will herald a return to form for the international festival, with a lineup led by headliners Jack White and Halsey, as well as Foals, Bonobo, Fontaines D.C. and more.

Other international artists on the line-up include Dinosaur Jr, Syd, Arlo Parks, Black Pumas, Tom Misch, Mura Masa, Hiatus Kaiyote, Superorganism, Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail and more.

The 25th-anniversary event will take place at Fuji Rock’s longstanding home, Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture, from 29 to 31 July this year.

News of the line-up comes after Smash, along with a consortium of Japan-based international promoters, spent much of 2021 lobbying for the resumption of international touring in Japan.

 


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Creativeman: “We can see light at the end of the tunnel”

Japan’s leading promoter Creativeman says it is “seeing light at the end of the tunnel” as restrictions are gradually lifted.

The Japanese government recently announced plans to increase the cap on the number of people entering Japan from 3,500 to 5,000 per day starting in March.

In addition, the quarantine period for arrivals will be shortened from seven days to three from March, when the country opens to returning foreign residents (not tourists).

However, the quarantine requirement for international artists won’t be determined until next week, according to Japanese promoters’ association ACPC.

Regardless, Creativeman is bullish its marquee festival Summer Sonic will return to Tokyo and Osaka this summer for the first time since 2019 – international artists and all.

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August,” says Creativeman’s Layli Odamura. “The reception at the announcement was so fantastic on every platform. Everyone is very eager and ready for it to happen and feel the heat.”

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August”

The 1975 and Post Malone were recently announced as headliners of the festival, due to take place on 20–21 August simultaneously at Zozomarine Stadium & Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, and at the Maishima Sonic Park in Osaka.

Other international artists lined up for the event are Carly Rae Jepsen, Kasabian, The Libertines, Maneskin, Megan Thee Stallion, One OK Rock, The Offspring, Primal Scream, St. Vincent, Yungblud, All Time Low, Beabadoobee, Easy Life, Fishbone, Kacey Musgraves, Inhaler, Kula Shaker, Rina Sawayama, Squid and the Linda Lindas.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan,” maintains Odamura. “We as a promoter are ready for the live market to return and we will continue to assess the situation with the government. There will be multiple headline shows happening towards the autumn onwards too.”

Despite Japan’s strict border controls and quarantine requirements during the past two years, Creativeman has had some success in bringing overseas artists to the country.

Last September, the promoter pulled off Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, Supersonic.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the two-day event at Zozomarine Stadium.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan”

The festival was considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts and, a few months later, Creativeman promoted the first headline tour of an international artist in Japan in 18 months with King Crimson.

In another win for international promoters in Japan, a Creativeman-led alliance successfully lobbied the government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan, which was officially announced last year, includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo.

The consortium, completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax, complements the work of existing music association ACPC, with which it shares members.

The consortium’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines, which Asia-based execs say is the biggest challenge facing the market.

 


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Omicron live music restrictions: World update

As the new Omicron variant of coronavirus takes hold, IQ has updated the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets. This update complements our European list which can be read here

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on Thursday 16 December.

To read about the Omicron restrictions affecting European markets, please click here


Abu Dhabi
As of 27 November, the operating capacity of indoor events has increased to 80%. Entry to indoor events requires attendees to show their green pass and a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours.

Attendees at indoor events must also undertake an EDE scan at public entry points and wear a mask.

Argentina
As of 16 November, mass events in outdoor spaces can take place at 100% capacity. Attendees over 18 years of age must provide proof of at least one dose of the vaccine, and wear a face mask during the event.

Australia
In New South Wales, face masks, proof of vaccination and Covid-19 Safe Check-in are not required. Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

In Victoria (and from 17 December, Queensland too) many leisure and entertainment facilities, such as live music venues, can only open for attendees and staff who are fully vaccinated or exempted. Capacity limits and social distancing will not apply.

South Australia is currently operating under Level 1 restrictions which means venues are limited to 75% capacity for seated events and 50% for standing events. Covid Management Plans required for events of more than 1,000 people. Masks are required for shared indoor public spaces.

Though Western Australia remains in a ‘state of emergency’, events and concerts are permitted to go ahead at full capacity. However, businesses must provide a Covid Safety Plan and maintain a contact register. Events with more than 500 patrons are required to complete a Covid Event Checklist or Plan.

For information on restrictions in Northern Territory click here, Tasmania here and Australia Capital Territory here.

Brazil
In November, the Brazilian government increased the capacity limit for music venues from 70% to 100% with proof of vaccination.

Canada
In Ontario, Canada’s capital city and its biggest live music market, new restrictions came into effect on Sunday 19 December.

Under the new rules, music venues and many other indoor public settings will be limited to 50% capacity. Event spaces are required to close by 23:00.

Canada’s live music restrictions vary from province to province.

See the latest guidelines for each of the regions here: AlbertaBritish Columbia, Manitoba, New BrunswickNewfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova ScotiaNunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon.

Chile
Restrictions vary across the country but the majority of regions are on step 3 (preparation) or step 4 (initial opening) of the national five-step reopening plan.

During step 3, seated concerts in closed spaces (such as music venues) can take place at 50% capacity if all attendees show a Mobility Pass verifying full vaccination. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 30% capacity.

Seated concerts in open spaces (such as open-air venues) can take place at 60% capacity with a Mobility Pass. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 40% capacity.

In non-seated closed spaces, events can take place with up to 100 people (sans Mobility Pass) or 500 people (with Mobility Pass). In non-seated open spaces, events can take place with up to 200 (sans Mobility Pass) or 1,000 (with Mobility Pass).

Attendees at all non-seated venues must be able to maintain social distancing (1m without food consumption, 1.5m with).

Masks are required in all public spaces.

China

Life is largely back to normal but regional lockdowns have been imposed every time there are new outbreaks of the virus.

Dubai
Mask-wearing is compulsory, as is keeping a two-meter social distance, except in restaurants, cafes, offices, workplaces, gyms, shopping centres, beaches and public and entertainment parks, where a one-meter rule applies.

Outside, you must wear a mask unless exercising, eating or drinking, at a barbershop or salon, in a car with people from the same household, or if you’re alone.

Live entertainment and activities are permitted in restaurants, cafés and shopping malls. Events with free movement – such as standing concerts – are now allowed again, with a maximum of 5,000 people. Vaccination is required for these events.

Japan
At the beginning of November, the Japanese government eased its 10,000-capacity limit on mass gatherings such as concerts following a steady decline in coronavirus cases.

Events across the country can now admit 5,000 people, or 50% of capacity – whichever is larger – while large-scale spaces are permitted to welcome more than 10,000 spectators in Tokyo and other regions previously under a state or quasi-state of emergency. However, events that will involve fans shouting and cheering will be capped at 50% of capacity.

See more information on event restrictions here.

Mexico
Mexico is currently following a colour-coded system (red, orange, yellow, green) which is updated every two weeks.

Currently, all states are coded yellow (resuming limited activities but with precaution) or green (resuming normal activities but with precaution).

Concerts can only take place in green-coded states. See the colour codes for states here.

New Zealand
Since the beginning of this month, New Zealand has been operating with a traffic light system, under which each region has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

A region’s colour determines the set of restrictions by which it has to abide.

In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with one-metre social distancing. In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality. Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.

Every region aside from Northland will move to orange at 23:59 NZST on 30 December.  These settings will stay in place until 17 January when the cabinet will review. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected many areas would move to green at that point.

South Africa
As of 1 October 2021, South Africa is operating under an adjusted Alert Level 1 which indicates a “low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness”.

Under Alert Level 1, leisure and entertainment facilities, whether indoors or outdoors, must close at 23:00. Nightclubs are closed to the public.

Face masks are mandatory for every person when in a public place and 1.5 metres social distancing must be maintained.

Entertainment facilities are limited to a maximum capacity of 750 people for indoor venues and 2,000 people or less for outdoor venues – with social distancing. Smaller venues are limited to 50% capacity.

South Korea
It was announced on 16 December that South Korea will reimpose curfews on businesses for an initial two weeks from Saturday 18 December.

Public places such as concert halls and cinemas will be permitted to operate until 22:00, while restaurants, cafes and other nightlife venues will have to close at 21:00.

The measures, announced on Thursday (16 December), come a month and a half after the government initiated a phased reopening plan. Amid record highs of Covid-19 infections, the cabinet has gradually rolled back the policy.

United States
Restrictions may vary from state to state – check the US government website for the latest guidance.

New York City
On 13 December, governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This measure is effective until 15 January 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions.

California
California is fully open for business with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.

For indoor events with 1,000 or more or outdoor events with 10,000 or more, attendees age 3 and older must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a negative Covid-19 test.

Unvaccinated persons are required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. It is recommended that fully vaccinated people also wear masks in these settings.

 


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Moment House launches in Japan with ticketer Zaiko

Moment House has launched in Japan through a partnership with digital ticketing platform Zaiko, which invested in the company in September.

The LA-based live media platform, which powers ticketed livestreamed ‘Moments’ for leading musicians and entertainers, has processed more than one million tickets across 168 countries since its launch in 2019.

Tame Impala, KSI, Halsey, St Vincent, Kygo, Kaytranada, Brockhampton, Grouplove, Yungblud and Justin Bieber are among the artists that have worked with the platform.

Moment House Japan has now announced its first virtual shows showcasing talent from across Asia. LA-based Japanese artist Jin Akanishi will be showcasing his first “online digital experience” on 25 December.

Tame Impala, KSI, Halsey, St Vincent, Kygo, Kaytranada, Brockhampton and Justin Bieber have worked with the platform

In January, the platform will present a performance from Korean-American rapper Jessi as well as a virtual gig from Thai singers Billkin and PP Krit.

Moment House’s expansion comes after the platform received US$12 million in new funding from investors including UTA Ventures, the investment arm of United Talent Agency, artists Halsey and Kaytranada, and Max Cutler, founder of podcast studio Parcast and head of new content for Spotify.

The new investors joined existing backers including high-profile artist managers Troy Carter, Scooter Braun, Myles Shear (Kygo), Austin Rosen (Post Malone), as well as actor Jared Leto, UnitedMasters’ Steve Stoute, Patreon CEO Jack Conte and ex-TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer.

 


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Japan eases 10k capacity limit on mass gatherings

The Japanese government has eased its 10,000-capacity limit on mass gatherings such as concerts following a steady decline in coronavirus cases.

Events across the country can now admit 5,000 people, or 50% of capacity – whichever is larger – while large-scale spaces are permitted to welcome more than 10,000 spectators in Tokyo and other regions previously under a state or quasi-state of emergency. However, events that will involve fans shouting and cheering will be capped at 50% of capacity.

Kyodo News reports the move has been backed by promoters, who have started putting additional tickets on sale for shows in anticipation of hosting larger crowds.

We will continue to work hard to prevent infections so our guests can feel at ease

“We will continue to work hard to prevent infections so our guests can feel at ease,” says a statement from music association the All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC).

The restrictions were in place in 27 of the country’s 47 prefecture and have been gradually eased by the government since 1 October.

Earlier this year, 10 leading Japanese concert promoters announced the formation of the International Promoters Alliance Japan to establish unified guidelines for the safe resumption of events involving international artists.

Led by Creativeman Productions head Naoki Shimizu, the alliance includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo – will work closely with the Japanese government, as well as international embassies and consulates.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan is completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax. The organisation complements the work of ACPC, with which it shares members.

 


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Creativeman: ‘Supersonic was a big step in Japan’s recovery’

Supersonic promoter Creativeman says the event was a ‘big step’ towards the resumption of festivals and concerts in Japan.

The festival was Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, and has been considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the Creativeman-promoted event in Zozomarine Stadium, Tokyo.

The event took place across 18 and 19 September and the promoter says that in the two weeks subsequent, there were no reports of infection from visitors, performing artists, or staff.

At the festival, attendees were asked to comply with a number of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that included eating meals in silence, abstaining from alcohol, maintaining social distancing and “quietly waiting” for admission to the event.

Attendance for each day was estimated at between 10,000 and 13,000.

“Japanese entertainment has finally restarted”

“The time that had been stopped for over a year due to coronavirus has begun to move, and Japanese entertainment has finally restarted,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

“We were able to take a brilliant first step toward revival by taking thorough infection control measures, but the road has just begun. We will continue to make trial and error, and aim for Summer Sonic 2022 one year later. I would like to expect entertainment in a new era.”

The one-off event was held in lieu of Creativeman’s annual Summer Sonic festival which was cancelled this year due to the fact that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics used venues normally rented for the event.

Originally, Supersonic was to be held in Tokyo and Osaka but the latter was cancelled after Creativeman decided that holding the event in two locations was not feasible, considering state-of-emergency restrictions.

Japan lifted its Covid-19 state of emergency, covering 19 prefectures, at the end of September amid a dramatic fall in cases and rapid progress in its vaccination rollout.

 


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Tokyo Olympics to be held largely without spectators

The Olympic Games in Tokyo will go ahead without spectators after Japan declared a coronavirus state of emergency for the capital that will run throughout the event.

Prime minister Yoshihide Suga says the new restrictions will in effect from 12 July and remain in place until 22 August, which will eclipse the Olympics.

The Games are scheduled to take place between 23 July to 8 August, while the Paralympic Games are between 24 August and 5 September.

Under the state of emergency, venues in Tokyo and other areas near the capital city will not be allowed to hold events with fans during the Games.

However, stadiums in the regions of Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka will be permitted to have spectators up to 50% of capacity and up to 10,000 people.

“Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants… we need to strengthen our countermeasures”

Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol and must close by 8 pm.

“Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures,” says the prime minister.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto says: “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections. I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas.”

A new wave of infections in Japan began in April, with Tokyo and Osaka hit hardest by the recent surge. The capital was placed under a state of emergency earlier this year, and cinemas, museums and other event facilities were asked to reduce capacities.

Japan’s vaccination rollout has been slow, and just over 15% of the country is fully vaccinated, but overall the country has had relatively low case numbers and a death toll of around 14,900.

 


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Japan’s leading int’l promoters form alliance

Ten leading Japanese concert promoters have officially announced the formation of the International Promoters Alliance Japan.

Led by Creativeman Productions head Naoki Shimizu, the alliance is hoping to establish unified guidelines for the safe resumption of events involving international artists.

The alliance – which includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo – will work closely with the Japanese government, as well as international embassies and consulates, to further the cause.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan is completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax. The alliance will complement the work of existing music association ACPC, with which it shares members.

In a statement, the group says: “The history of music in Japan was changed forever in 1966 when the Beatles performed at the Nippon Budokan. Since then, musicians from around the world have come to Japan to perform, and the opportunity for fans to experience high quality international live entertainment has led to the growth of a rich and diversified Japanese music culture.

“The fact that Japan has been able to create a larger market for music than any other Asian country is a credit to the more than 60 years of work by member companies of the International Promoters Alliance Japan, who have also contributed to the overseas expansion of Japanese artists and content.”

“That Japan has been able to create a larger market for music than any other Asian country is a credit to IPAJ members”

It continues: “From club and theatre shows through to stadium tours, major festivals, and live restaurants, the breadth of the market is unique in the region, and hosting performances by international artists contributes to international economic exchange, the development of the Japanese music culture and economy, and the growth of employment.”

The International Promoters Alliance Japan was unofficially formed in December last year and in March 2021 the alliance succeeded in getting the Japanese government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The group’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines.

Once overseas artists have resumed their visits to Japan, the promoters will work together to “foster continued international cultural exchange in this most important of live entertainment markets”.

Read IQ’s Japan country report, which outlined the opportunities in the Japanese market pre-pandemic, here.

Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack

 

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AEG to build 18,000-cap. arena in Osaka

A consortium including AEG has been chosen to deliver a new 18,000-capacity indoor arena near Osaka in south-western Japan.

A joint venture comprising AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group), Mitsubishi Corporation Urban Development (MCUD) and Kanden Realty and Development will construct the venue at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, a 264-hectare (650ac) park in Suita, after beating a rival bid by Live Nation and Oak View Group.

The new arena, provisionally simply called Osaka Arena, has a provisional opening date of autumn Reiwa 9 (2027), according to Sankei Shimbun.

When complete, Osaka Arena will host around 65 events every year

With a capacity of 18,000, the arena will be the biggest in western Japan, and second-biggest in the country behind the mammoth Saitama Super Arena (36,500-cap.) in Tokyo. According to Osaka Prefecture, when complete the venue will host some 165 events annually, including entertainment and sports events such as NBA basketball matches.

Hirofumi Yoshimura, the governor of Osaka Prefecture, said at a press conference he is looking forward to seeing the consortium, a “global business entity, exerting its strength to bring sports and concerts the likes of which we have not seen in Osaka.”

 


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Fuji Rock wants attendees to ‘refrain from speaking’

Japanese festival Fuji Rock has published a series of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at this summer’s edition – one of which discourages festivalgoers from speaking to each other.

The Smash Corporation festival is set to take place at its usual home of Naeba Ski Resort in Tokyo, between 20–22 August 2021, but not as we know it.

This year, the festival’s typical international bill has been replaced with a completely domestic line-up which includes Radwimps, Man With a Mission, King Gnu, Cornelius, The Birthday, ROVO and Denki Groove, while stage capacities may be restricted depending on circumstances.

Festivalgoers must adhere to a number of stringent restrictions which range from wearing a mask and socially distancing to the more bizarre requirements.

The festival has published an extensive list of prohibitions for attendees which includes raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations during the performances’.

Naoki Shimizu, president of Japanese promoter Creativeman, told the Japan Times that requirements like these are necessary if the live music industry is ever going to stage a comeback, especially in a country where cases have recently been spiking and the vaccine rollout still hasn’t hit its stride.

Raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations’ are discouraged at Fuji Rock

Shimizu revealed that Creativeman festival Supersonic, which welcomed 300,000 people across three days in 2019, will also set out a number of requirements for attendees: “We will have to check everyone’s temperature, first. Capacity will be limited. And alcohol … we probably can’t have alcohol at the festival.”

This year’s Supersonic will be a post-Olympics version of its trademark Summer Sonic event held simultaneously in Chiba and Osaka prefectures and will feature 10 acts across three days – though the line-up is yet to be announced.

With Japan’s borders largely closed to international travel and the Tokyo Olympic Committee moving to ban international spectators from the Summer Games (23 July to 8 August), it’s likely that Supersonic will also opt for a domestic line-up.

Both Creativeman and Smash have spent much of 2021 lobbying for the resumption of international touring in Japan via a new consortium of Japan-based international promoters.

Earlier this year, the consortium succeeded in getting the Japanese government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The alliance’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines.

 


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