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Global Promoters Report: The Baltic States

In the Baltics, a region caught between rock and a hard place, the live music business is reportedly booming. “The market in the Baltic States recovered from the pandemic very quickly,” says Renatas Načajus, partner at ISEG in Vilnius. “Most of the events that were rescheduled had bigger ticket sales than we usually would have before the pandemic.”

ISEG are toasting recent successes with tours around Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by OneRepublic, James Arthur, LP, and GusGus among others, and they’re not alone. Top Baltic promoters such as Medusa Concert, L Tips, and 8 Days A Week have all benefited from a post-pandemic bounce- back, while Live Nation has seen a roaring trade for shows by Slipknot, Dua Lipa, Sting, Eurovision breakout sensation Måneskin, and Rammstein, who sold a mammoth 66,000 tickets at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds in July.

“We see bigger demand for arena and stadium shows after the pandemic,” says Live Nation’s Deividas Afarjanc. “There is a strong demand for foreign shows, with significant sales power in all three markets. People are willing to come back to live shows. The biggest challenge is to get artists here, as demand is much higher than they have available dates on tour.”

“We believe that we‘ve emerged much stronger out of pandemic trenches,” says longstanding industry stalwart Giedrius Klimašauskas, MD of Stay Live, a talent buyer that operates through promotion sister companies including Bravo Events. This year, he’s celebrated sell-outs for shows by Calum Scott and Andrea Bocelli, as well as Lithuania’s 1000 Lanterns and 20,000-capacity Granatos Live festivals, and noticed a swift expansion in the market. “We are monitoring higher expenditures for leisure spending comparing to previous years, even prior to the pandemic.”

“Events that were right after the war started had a huge drop in ticket sales, and a lot of people did not attend events even though they had tickets purchased”

Demand is clearly through the roof in all three countries, although Klimašauskas notes slightly contracted markets in Estonia and Latvia compared to Lithuania, which opened up sooner and provided greater support for musicians. But there have also been surprising, and surprisingly positive, effects of the Ukrainian war on the local music scenes, too.

Initially the invasion put international acts off touring the region – usually a standard European stop-off between Finland and Poland – and fans from attending shows. “Events that were right after the war started had a huge drop in ticket sales, and a lot of people did not attend events even though they had tickets purchased in advance,” says Načajus. But, as it became clear that the war wouldn’t spread to the Baltics, demand for tickets rocketed, and an influx of young people fleeing the turmoil in neighbouring countries has created strong local fanbases for visiting acts from Ukraine and Belarus.

Older rock bands have seen a drop-off in the Baltics over 2022, and the region isn’t immune to the rising production costs caused by the exodus of technical personnel during the pandemic. “Production companies have lost quite a number of their people during the pandemic, therefore the prices for production services have skyrocketed,” says Klimašauskas. “In many cases, production costs have doubled, and the quality of the service has decreased. It’s the same for security, catering, hotels, marketing. It‘s a very painful reality in that sense, to see this service-quality deflation.”

Despite such challenges, the Baltics remain very favourable markets for visiting international stars and rising acts alike. International rap, electronic, and pop acts have proven strong, often thanks to the accessibility of relatively cheap TV advertising to complement digital, billboard, and radio campaigns. The region’s premier showcase festival, Tallinn Music Week, helps nurture a solid flow of fresh rising talent, particularly from the rap scene. And with the market in ascendence as it heads towards income parity with the EU, and healthy competition between promoters opening up castles, botanical gardens, and museums across the region as occasional music venues, the major promoters all expect strong growth over the coming years. Having weathered the worst of the storm, the Baltic future looks bright.


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.

Positivus festival reaps rewards from site move

Positivus founder and CEO Girts Majors has spoken to IQ about how the festival was able to afford its most impressive and expensive line-up yet thanks to a change of location.

Established in 2007, Positivus is the largest popular music and arts festival in the Baltics, welcoming up to 30,000 local and international fans each year.

Muse, Nick Cave, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Ellie Goulding, The xx, Sigur Rós and Sinéad O’Connor are among the world-class acts that have performed at the festival, which for 13 years has taken place in the small beach town of Salacgriva.

This year, the festival took place in Lucavsala park – a 370-acre island on the Daugava river in the capital city of Riga – in order to become “more accessible to a wider audience”.

“Riga can provide a green island in the middle of the city… there are not many European cities that can provide such a unique location so close to the city centre,” says Majors.

In total, the festival sold 20,000 tickets – the highest number of visitors in years

Most importantly, the new location has resulted in more financial support (from the city of Riga), a bigger site, and several new sponsorship deals.

And so, despite the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was able to book its most expensive line-up yet, bringing acts such as Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Rocky and Thundercat to Latvia for the first time ever.

In total, the festival sold 20,000 tickets – the highest number of visitors in years, according to Girts.

And while the festival encountered typical challenges such as rising costs, USD rate and a loss of regular professionals, not a single artist dropped out of the lineup.

Off the back of the most “impressive” edition in the festival’s history, Girts says: “There are no doubts anymore that our current site can give you the best Positivus festival experience”.


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Latvia’s Positivus Festival moves to new location

Positivus, the Baltic region’s largest festival, is moving to a new location in Latvia’s capital city.

After 13 years in the Latvian coastal town of Salacgrīva, the festival will now take place in Riga’s Lucavsala park, located alongside the Daugava river.

Artists including Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Arthur, Ed Sheeran and Rammstein have delivered concerts in the park.

Caribou, Thundercat, Yves Tumor, Moses Sumney, Black Midi and Black Country, New Road have also been confirmed

This year’s edition of Positivus will see artists including A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion and Jamie xx perform in Lucavsala on 15 and 16 July.

Caribou, Thundercat, Yves Tumor & Its band, SoFaygo, Bas, Moses Sumney, Black Midi and Black Country, New Road have also been confirmed.

Positivus has gathered up to 30,000 fans from Latvia and abroad every year between 2007 and 2019, when it took a two-year break due to the pandemic.

The festival has previously hosted the likes of Muse, Nick Cave, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding, The xx, Sigur Rós and Sinéad O’Connor.


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Unvaxxed cast out to sea as Latvia festival returns

Laivā, the unique ‘crossover festival’ with a partly floating audience, returned to Riga on Sunday 15 August, with DaGamba, the popular Latvian band behind the event, welcoming 5,000 people for another day of music on the shores and waters of Jugla Lake.

Now in its second year after launching last summer, Laivā – Latvian for “on a boat”, as well as a play on the English word “live” – featured performances from local artists Skyforger, Bur Mani and Gints Smukais, as well as DaGamba themselves.

The bands performed to an audience of around 5,000 people in kayaks, dinghies and motor yachts, with some 3,500 fans watching from the shore and another 1,500 on the water. Organisers offered boat hire services, though festivalgoers could also bring their own.

In Latvia, government restrictions mean vaccinated and unvaccinated concertgoers must be separated, so only fans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (or had natural antibodies) were allowed to watch the show from the shore of the lake.

“This is simply a brilliant idea for how to hold a festival while ensuring social distancing for the unvaccinated”

The stage was also located on the shore, while drinks were available from two bars floating on the Jugla.

The attendance at Laivā 2021 was a significant increase on 2020 (before the coronavirus vaccine became available), when 1,500 people attended the socially distanced debut event.

“This is simply a brilliant idea for how to hold a festival and ensure social distancing for the unvaccinated at the same time,” Anna Berzina, who was rowing a kayak with her husband, tells AFP.

At press time, just 726,000 Latvians – less than 40% of the population – was fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in the European Union. The Latvian prime minister, Krišjānis Kariņš, said today (18 August) that “unvaccinated people are likely to have more and more restrictions, particularly on [freedom of] assembly” in the coming months.


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Festival frenzy: New events scheduled for 2021

The global festival sector has gained a slate of new events for next year and beyond, signalling an increasing optimism about the return of live music in the coming months. Alongside the previously announced Montreux Jazz China, Secret Sounds Australia and UK festivals One Out, Unlocked, and Creation Day, IQ looks at three of the most recent festivals that are due to pop up in Australia, Finland and England.

Summer Sound, Australia
Latvia’s EDM festival Summer Sound is expected to wash up on Australian shores in 2022, says the festival’s newly recruited local promoter Gareth Lott.

Lott says the team will be looking at locations in Adelaide and along the east coast and, while the festival’s location and format are yet to be confirmed, he has confirmed that the event will be outdoors with multiple stages, featuring ‘massive EDM acts’.

“We’re excited about the potential of bringing Summer Sound Festival to Australia – wide open spaces and the Aussie summer sounds very attractive right now,” said Summer Sound co-founder Alex Kunnari in a statement. “Plenty of international EDM talent would love to head down to Australia next season!”

Lott commented: “EDM festivals took a bit of a hit five years ago because of skyrocketing talent fees, but we believe we have a formula that will make Summer Sound Festival a success.”

“It’s only early days but we know we’ll be outdoors with multiple stages, and we’ll have some massive EDM acts on the bill – but it’s not just the line-up that will make people want to come back. This is going to be a lot of fun!”

The festival has been running since 2012, taking place in Liepāja, a port city on Latvia’s west coast, and previous lineups have hosted DJs including Avicii, Armin van Buuren, Axwell, Dash Berlin and Eric Prydz. Last year’s festival in Latvia attracted 32,000 visitors across two days.

Summer Sound co-founder Alex Kunnari says the event will be outdoors with multiple stages, featuring ‘massive EDM acts’

Kaisa Rocks, Finland
Live Nation recently announced a new fixture in Finland’s festival calendar with Kaisa Rocks, a three-day music event scheduled to take place in August next year.

The festival will take place in Kaisaniemi Park in Helsinki between 12 and 14 August 2021, offering a fully domestic line-up.

Finnish rock titans including Eppu Normaali, Popeda, Battle Beast, Stam1na, Klamydia, Arttu Wiskari, Anssi Kela, Turmio Kätilöt and Vesterinen will deliver performances.

“It’s great to launch a brand-new outdoor event in Helsinki,” says promoter Niksu Väistö. “The August weekend in Kaisaniemi will be full of performances by top Finnish artists, which are highly anticipated.”

Väistö says the event will be organised in accordance with official regulations and the instructions of health authorities and necessary changes to the event will be made to ensure the safety of the event.

Tickets go on sale today (1 December) and range from €49 for a one-day pass to €125 for a VIP one-day pass.

Finnish rock titans including Eppu Normaali, Popeda, Battle Beast, Stam1na will perform at Kaisa Rocks

Signals Festival, England
The Cribs, The Charlatans, Ghostpoet and Liz Lawrence will all be paying a visit to the English countryside next summer for the brand new Signals festival.

The family-friendly event will take place in the grounds of Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire on Saturday 12 June 2021, offering an eclectic mix of entertainment, culture and film.

Music aside, The Charlatans frontman, Tim Burgess, will also bring a live, in-person edition of Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties to ‘Tim Peaks Diner’ which will host gigs, talks, DJ sets and more from the singer’s special guests.

Each festival ticket includes entry to the historical village, with an old-style sweet shop, retro pub, vintage printing press, and Victorian Tramway Museum. Festivalgoers can roam the cobbled streets before riding one of the original trams up to the main site.

First release tickets cost £55 for adults (17 years +), £25 for children (6–16 years), and infants up to the age of 5 go for free.


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Latvia paves the way for float-in music festivals

Latvia is the latest country to come up with a creative format for socially distanced concerts after pioneering float-in music festival, Laiva.

The one-day festival took place on Lake Jugla and saw 1,500 people in boats watch Laima Jansone, Tautumeitas and Dagamba perform on the shores, at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum.

Guests were invited to either rent a boat or bring their own, provided it fell into the category of a rowing boat, SUP board, or a motorboat with a lift motor.

The festival, which took place on 8 August, was streamed live on TV channel LMT Straume and organisers dubbed it “a phenomenal evening”.

From deck chair concerts in Germany to tuk-tuk drive-ins in Thailand and bike-in concerts in Italy, Lativa’s float-in music festival is the latest in a series of innovative socially distanced shows taking place worldwide.

Latvia’s government has reported 1,290 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 32 related deaths. In May, The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania opened their borders to one another, creating Europe’s first coronavirus “travel bubble” since nations began shutting their borders earlier this year.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Controversy as Enrique Iglesias shows cancelled

Upcoming shows by Spanish star Enrique Iglesias in Croatia, Belarus and Latvia have been cancelled, as the artist’s representative, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), declares a lack of compliance on behalf of promoter Art BG.

CAA released a statement on Thursday (14 November) calling off concerts at the Zagreb Arena (16,500-cap.) on 1 December; the Minsk Arena (15,000-cap.) on 3 December; and Arena Riga (10,300-cap.) on 5 December, all part of the artist’s All the Hits Live world tour.

A person close to the situation tells IQ that shows in Greece, under the charge of the same promoter, have also been affected.

Art BG has promoted other shows on the All the Hits Live tour in numerous countries, including Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland.

However, according to Latvian publication Apollo, no information about the concerts in Zagreb, Minsk and Riga had been published on Iglesias’ official website. The concert dates are still advertised on the Art BG website, but the pages they link to no longer exist.

“Sadly and regrettably, after much careful consideration, and exhausting all possible alternatives, we have been forced to cancel the upcoming shows in Zagreb, Riga, and Minsk,” reads the statement that CAA issued to ticket sellers, and published by Latvian platform Bilesu Serviss.

“Art BG has not complied or fulfilled their contractual obligations with the venues or any of the production elements for these three events”

“Art BG, the concert tour promoter, producer and event organiser, has not complied or fulfilled their contractual obligations with the venues or any of the production elements for these three events. All of this makes it impossible to put on the show that our fans deserve.

“Safety for our fans and crew is paramount and we cannot guarantee this for everyone without the promoter fulfilling their obligations. It is simply too big of a risk.”

The agency adds that it is seeking new dates for the shows “in the near future”.

“Together, with vendors and venues, we are devoted to making the responsible party, Art BG, held responsible for their actions,” concludes the statement.

Ticketing platform Bilesu Serviss has approached the police to obtain a legal assessment of the situation and “possible fraud by Art BG”. Until more information is available, no refunds will be made for tickets purchased on the Bilesu Serviss platform. Details about refunds will appear on the ticketer’s website and sent to all ticket holders in due course.

IQ has contacted Art BG and CAA for comment.


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Media giant Ekspress Grupp buys Latvian ticket agency

Pan-Baltic media group Ekspress Grupp has announced the acquisition of Biļešu Paradīze, the second-largest entertainment ticket agency in Latvia.

Biļešu Paradīze (‘Paradise Tickets’) operates an online ticketing platform,, and box offices across Latvia. In 2018, it sold tickets for more than 7,000 events, chiefly on behalf of cultural institutions and independent promoters.

Ekspress Grupp is the Baltics’ largest media and entertainment conglomerate, active in producing online content and publishing newspapers and magazines in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It employs around 1,700 people.

As part of the acquisition, Biļešu Paradīze becomes part of A/S Delfi, the Ekspress subsidiary that operates, Latvia’s most popular news portal, which has 800,000 monthly users. The company’s founders, Jānis Daube and Ēriks Naļivaiko, remain in management positions.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, Baltic Ticket Holdings (BTH) is the leading ticket seller in all three Baltic countries, with Biļešu Paradīze its main competitor in Latvia.


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Edmania: Sheeran breaks records across Europe with new onsales

Not content with having almost certainly the biggest tour of this year, the Ed Sheeran touring colossus is extending its record-breaking ÷ run deeper into 2019, having already smashed touring records across Europe ahead of a string of open-air dates next summer.

The 12th leg of the ÷ (pronounced ‘Divide’) tour sees Sheeran play a run of European festivals, parks, stadia and other open-air venues, touching down at Groupama Stadium (59,186-cap.) in Lyons on 24 May 2019 and wrapping up with three nights in Chantry Park in Ipswich, in Sheeran’s home county of Suffolk, on 23–25 August.

The tour has done gangbuster business since starting back in March 2017, with the British singer-songwriter’s lasting popularity – dubbed ‘Edmania’ by European promoter FKP Scorpio – driving huge numbers across all legs, including 1m tickets sold in Australasia (leg seven), 750,000 tickets across FKP shows in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Poland (leg nine) and, currently, a US$300m-and-counting-grossing US stadium run (leg ten).

The tour was also the highest grossing in the world in the first half of 2018, shifting more than 2.6m tickets – more than double that of runner-up Disney on Ice.

Tickets for leg 12 went on sale last week, and promoters across Europe are already reporting a massive response to the new run of shows, believed to be the last of the tour.

“‘Edmania’ has no end,” enthuses Germany’s FKP Scorpio, which has in five days sold more than 200,000 tickets for just four shows: Hockenheimring on 22 and 23 June and Hanover Fairground on 2 and 3 August.

9% – or nearly one in ten – Icelanders are going to the Reykjavik show

The company is additionally co-promoting two dates in Prague (Letňany airport, 7 and 8 July), one in Riga (Lucavsala Park, 12 July) and two in Helsinki (Malmi airport, 23 and 24 July), in partnership with Charmenko, L Tips Agency and Fullsteam, respectively, all of which it says are seeing “great local demand” for tickets.

The fan response has been similarly overwhelming in France, where promoter Live Nation added a second Groupama Stadium date after the first sold out in minutes on Thursday morning, and at home, where Kilimanjaro Live and DHP Family added a third Ipswich show after the 23 and 24 August dates sold out in under half an hour.

In Romania, 25,000 tickets to Sheeran’s 3 July show at Bucharest’s National Arena stadium sold in record time; in Spain the figure is 70,000 in three hours, for two Live Nation-promoted shows in Barcelona and Madrid on 7 and 11 June, respectively.

In Austria, meanwhile, the onsale for a 28 June Wörthersee Stadium (30,000-cap.) set a new record by selling out in just three minutes; a second date announced for the following night took half an hour. Sheeran has now sold 180,000 tickets in Austria in the last 12 months alone, following two huge concerts at Happel Stadium in Vienna last month, reports Österreich.

But perhaps nowhere more is Sheeran’s status as the world’s premier live draw more apparent than in tiny Iceland, where promoters Sena Live and AEG Presents sold a record-breaking 30,000+ tickets in the space of two hours for his 10 August date at Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavik. At last count, the population of Iceland was 334,252, meaning around 9% – or nearly one in ten – Icelanders are going to the show. If the same was true in, say, the US, you’d need a stadium that could fit 29m people…


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EAY 2017: CEE arenas shrug off post-crash gloom

A majority of central and eastern European (CEE) arenas reported strong growth in 2016, boosted by growing demand and increased consumer confidence, IQ’s European Arena Yearbook 2017 reveals.

Almost all the arenas surveyed in eight CEE countries – Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Serbia – recorded positive results last year, with some even recording their most successful year to date, as they shrugged off the last remnants of the global financial crisis, which hit central and eastern Europe particularly hard.

While GDP is still not as high as in western Europe, demand is strong, consumer confidence has returned to the market and average audience figures are higher than some of the more affluent nations: the arenas surveyed sold 4,368,253 tickets to 882 events, generating €130.5 million.

Sport dominates the calendars at arenas across the region, accounting for 56% of programmes. Music makes up 26%, while family shows and miscellaneous events make-up 9% and 6%, respectively. Only 11 comedy shows took place in these arenas last year, an average of one per arena.

The largest attraction for people is clearly music events, which draw the highest average attendance: 7,761 (survey average attendance: 4,953).

“They used to regard it as very important to be seen as having significant and cool cultural festivals, but that’s changing”

‘Miscellaneous events’ are the next biggest draw, pulling an average crowd of 6,946 to corporate events and exhibitions.
Family and sports events attract average audiences of 4,300 (survey average: 5,157) and 3,610 (4,662) each.

Promoter Nick Hobbs, who books acts at all levels across central and eastern Europe, the Balkans and Turkey, says there’s starting to be a trend of people moving away from festivals and towards arena shows. “The festival market doesn’t seem to be doing as well as it was, but arenas are doing better,” he says. “That’s because sponsorship – which is essential for festivals, but not usually part of the P&L [profit and loss] of an arena show – is struggling, as companies shift their focus away from music.

“In some countries, such as Poland, municipalities are shifting their marketing spend away from cultural events due to the political climate. They used to regard it as very important to be seen as having significant and cool cultural festivals, but that’s changing due to a much more culturally conservative government.”

With the economic situation in many countries improving, arenas are seeing steady growth.


Read the full feature in the digital edition of the European Arena Yearbook 2017: