fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Festivals can still make a difference

The Covid pandemic has been the harshest on the events and festival industry, keeping in mind that mass gatherings were the first to be shut down and will be the last to reopen.

The worst thing is that nobody knows when the revival of the festivals might happen. Uncertainty is at its highest point. However, despite unprecedented challenges, there is still a lot that festivals can do.

Most festivals have turned to the digital world in order to remain present in the lives of their fans. Some offered videos of their past editions, some built complex pay-per-view virtual worlds with exclusive superstar shows.

At Exit we decided to take a somewhat unique approach. Exit started as a youth movement for peace and freedom in Serbia and the Balkans 20 years ago.

Since then, social activism remains as important as the music itself through the work of Exit Foundation, which runs the festival, among other projects.

The Foundation’s work varies from humanitarian initiatives, such as helping to build a hospital wing for children with cancer, and participating in a global campaign to stop human trafficking, to projects in youth development, peace promotion and environmental protection.

We were also responsible for bringing the titles of European Culture Capital and European Youth Capital to our home city of Novi Sad.

Life Stream is an open-source platform that can run by every event in the world

Dedication to social activism is the reason we decided to mark Exit’s 20th anniversary with one of our biggest environmental projects to date, Life Stream, in which regular festival streams combine with video and messaging to alert the audience to the seriousness of the environmental crisis: if humanity doesn’t change course, Planet Earth could become inhabitable in just a few decades!

We launched a pilot edition of this project during ADE 2019 with Artbat performing from The Crane in Amsterdam.

The next level involves partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), to illustrate the crisis that is happening as we speak.

The pandemic and lockdown measures, together with climate change, are pushing a record number of people to the edge of extreme hunger.

It’s estimated that 270 million people will be in danger before the end of 2020 – an 80% increase from 2019.

Life Stream 2020 is a four-day festival, 3–6 September, taking place at Petrovaradin Fortress, where Exit Festival takes place.

From our legendary Dance Arena, we brought together international stars alongside our most famous regional acts. Some performances were live from the Fortress and some will be exclusive online sets, which we’ll present as if they’re live onstage.

The task of our generation is to build not a new normal, but a new Earth

We built a big production for this, one of the few actual stages that will be built this year. Viewers joined us online via stream, free of charge, and we had a small live audience, adhering to government guidelines and current health and safety measures.

During the stream there was be a call to action for people to donate directly to the UN’s WFP page.

Life Stream is an open-source platform that can run by every event in the world that wants to dedicate media space to support social issues.

Helping others is the strongest motivation to realise such a project, even in such difficult times. The pandemic is the fourth emergency state we at EXIT have experienced in our lives.

Therefore, we can offer a few words of consolation: that no matter how bad the situation looks at the moment, the clouds will disappear and the sun will shine again.

It is up to us in the festival world to be at the forefront of not allowing the ‘new normal’ to be a world with no contact, but for the pandemic to bring us to a more responsible way of thinking about the world around us.

The task of our generation is to build not a new normal, but a ‘new Earth,’ where humanity will be in harmony with the life around us. If we don’t succeed, we might be the last generation to try.

 


Dušan Kovačević is founder and CEO of Exit Festival in Serbia.

Exit Festival kicks off 20th anniversary celebrations

After postponing this year’s festival twice due to spikes in Coronavirus, Exit Festival has finally kicked off its 20th-anniversary celebrations with a smaller, hybrid event.

Last weekend, the Serbian festival launched Life Stream, a four-day socially-distanced festival which invited 500 fans per night to watch live performances in its Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad.

DJ’s including Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte, Nina Kraviz, Adam Beyer and Black Coffee performed on the specially-built stage where the Exit’s mts Dance Arena would usually be.

Footage from Life Stream, which has been organised in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), will be broadcast over two long weekends (17–20 and 24–27 September), along with videos and messages about looming environmental and hunger crises.

Exit’s Life Stream also included the international panel Conscious Music, which featured key members of the WFP including David Beasley and Exit’s Dušan Kovačević.

Life Stream will be broadcast over two weekends, along with messages about environmental and hunger crisis

Beasley pointed out that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people exposed to extreme hunger has increased to as many as 270 million, which is an increase of over 80% compared to the previous year.

According to Kovačević, if humanity does not change the direction it is moving in, our planet may become uninhabitable over the course of the following decades, due to the worsening climate changes.

He added that with the Life Stream project Exit wants to set a good example and encourage other festivals to use their media space to draw the public’s attention to the environmental and hunger crisis.

The Life Stream concept will be developed as an open-source platform and will be offered to other festivals and events around the world, for free.

Exit Festival will return next year from 8th to 11th July, with performances from David Guetta, Tyga, Eric Prydz, Four Tet, Boris Brejcha and more. Next year also marks 60 years of the United Nations World Food Programme.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Virtual concerts raise money, spirits amid Covid-19 crisis

A whole host of virtual benefit concerts has seen significant amounts of money and awareness raised for charities and funds tackling the coronavirus crisis.

Perhaps the most prominent of fundraising events, the recent Elton John-hosted iHeart Living Room Concert for America saw acts including Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Sam Smith and Backstreet Boys perform from their homes.

Attracting more than 8.7 million viewers, the event has so far raised over $8 million for US charities Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

British comedian James Corden last night (30 March) broadcast a similar event – dubbed HomeFest – from his garage with performances from BTS, Andrea Bocelli, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and John Legend.

Corden stated the aim of HomeFest was “to bring some joy and some music into your home at what is without a question one of the strangest and scariest moments in all our lives.”

Over the weekend, gaming-focused streaming platform Twitch hosted the Stream Aid 2020 charity event, including short performances from artists including Biffy Clyro, Rita Ora, OneRepublic, Sigrid, Diplo, Die Antwoord, Joe Jonas, the Lumineers, Lauv, Ellie Goulding and John Legend.

The event, which also saw celebrities compete against fans in a number of videogames, has so far raised over $2.7m for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund.

“The generosity of our entire community resulted in a large donation to two non-profits that can ensure the stability of our world and our industry”

Twitch also partnered with electronic music platform Beatport for 34-hour live stream marathon ReConnect, which raised more than $180,000 for the WHO’s Covid-19 fund and the Association for Electronic Music’s (Afem) Covid-19 hardship fund.

DJs including Carl Cox, Bonobo, Pete Tong, Nina Kraviz, Griz, Rüfüs Du Sol, A-Trak, Nicole Moudaber and Chris Liebing performed live as part of ReConnect.

More than 8.5 million viewers tuned in across 150 countries, with 6,500 individual donors.

“We are deeply grateful for all the talented artists and their teams that made the ReConnect event possible, and equally impressed with the dedication and passion shown by the global electronic music community that tuned in for over 34 hours this past weekend to reconnect with their favourite DJs,” comments Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels.

“The generosity of our entire community, including so many great industry partners that donated products to give away, is what resulted in a large donation to two non-profits that can ensure the health and stability of our world and our industry in the months to come.”

Event discovery platform Bandsintown also joined forces with Twitch to host a live music marathon, with all proceeds going to the MusiCares Covid-19 relief fund. The Bandsintown Live channel is today hosting live sets from Imogen Heap and Flux Pavilion, among others.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the La Liga Santander Fest, organised by Spanish football division La Liga, Universal Music and technical services company GTS, has raised over €800,000.

“Together we can convince people of the importance of staying at home and achieve our aim of providing funding for essential hospital materials”

Hosted by Spanish actress Eva González and radio DJ Tony Aguilar, the virtual festival saw performances from Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Morat and Manuel Carrasco, among others, as well as appearances from Spanish footballers and tennis player Rafael Nadal.

The Santander Bank Foundation will dedicate the funds for medical equipment and supplies in conjunction with the health authorities and national sports council.

“This initiative has turned into something huge,” says La Liga president Javier Tebas. “We have the best artists, the best clubs, the best players and the best fans. Together we can convince people of the importance of staying at home and achieve our aim of providing funding for essential hospital materials.”

‘Secret gig’ platform Sofar Sounds is also doing its bit, launching a ‘Listening Room’ where artists can perform live and announcing all artists who had shows cancelled will be paid as normal. All upcoming Sofar shows were cancelled on 13 March, affecting 2,000 artists.

Sofar has also launched a Global Artist Fund, aiming to raise $250,000 for artists, which will be distributed in grants of $250 each.

In January, the platform paid out over $460,000 among people who worked its concerts for free between 2016 and 2019, after agreeing a settlement with New York state’s Department of Labor.

In Australia, acts including Casey Donovan, Dami Im, Courtney Act and Patti Newton have joined forces with the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra, or John Foreman’s Aussie Pops Orchestra, performing a rendition of ‘What a Wonderful World’ from their respective homes and encouraging donations to music industry charity Support Act.

The orchaestra urges the public to “stay home, stay safe and when the time is right, please support live performance.”

Support Act’s Covid-19 emergency appeal has so far raised almost AU$240,000 (€133,819) to help the music industry through the coronavirus pandemic. Read how Australia’s Michael Chugg (Chugg Entertainment/Frontier Touring) is coping with the challenges thrown up by the coronvairus pandemic here.

Tales from Covid: Michael Chugg Q&A

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Exit Festival lobbies Serbian gov to plant 1bn trees

The Serbian government has initiated countrywide reforestation plans in accordance with Green R:Evolution, a campaign led by Exit Festival and local environmental organisations.

The plans would see forest cover increase from 28% of Serbia’s total surface area to at least 40%, equating to almost one billion new trees across the country.

The reforestation is in keeping with Exit Festival’s Green R:Evolution initiative which is backed by local eco organisations and calls for an increase in forest cover by almost 50%.

Launched in November 2019, Green R:Evolution recently received the support of Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, for the reforestation of the Fruška Gora mountain in Serbia.

The Serbian government has initiated countrywide reforestation plans following a campaign led by Exit Festival and local environmental organisations

Exit Festival is showcasing another eco initiative, Life Stream, at its 20th anniversary event from 9 to 12 July in Novi Sad, Serbia, which features performances from David Guetta, Tyga, Fatboy Slim, DJ Snake, James Arthur and Metronomy, among others.

The project will see imagery, text and data related to environmental issues injected into live broadcasts from the festival.

The sustainability efforts of festivals is one of the topics being discussed at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) today, taking place as part of the opening day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Exit 2.0: back to the future of the Balkans’ biggest festival

Exit Festival, a live music event spawned from the desire for peace and freedom in the Balkans, is turning twenty years old this year, with a brand new set of social aims appearing at the top of its agenda.

Founded by Dusan Kovačević, Ivan Milivojev, Bojan Boskovic and Milos Ignjatovic in 2000, the first edition of Exit Festival took place in University Park in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, with the objective of connecting like-minded Balkan people and encouraging political engagement among the youth.

“Exit was the first mass gathering of young people from former Yugoslavian countries after the Balkans War [which took place from 1991-1999],” Sagor Mešković, the festival’s chief communications officer, explains to IQ. “It started off as a youth activism movement for peace in Serbia and the Balkans.”

“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again,” adds Exit co-founder Kovačević. “Emotions were so high, that most of the artists said that they played the best concert of their tour , or even their whole career, at the event.”

Twenty years on, Exit Festival has just enjoyed its biggest year yet, welcoming 200,000 fans to its permanent site at Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress for four days of performances from the likes of the Cure, Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, the Chainsmokers and Greta van Fleet.

“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again”

Adding to its flagship event, the Exit team have now developed an extended festival network, providing “the biggest cultural bridge between the countries of the former Yugoslavia” in the form of No Sleep Festival in Serbia, Sea Star in Croatia, Revolution Festival in Romania and Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro.

This unique history and ethos is the driving force behind the desire for Exit to remain independent.

“Exit didn’t start for profit,” states Kovačević. “I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals – they are still doing great shows and people are having fun – but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this.”

With so much history behind them, the twentieth anniversary of Exit Festival is “important on so many levels, not just for us, but for the whole region,” says Kovačević.

Exit 2.0, as the anniversary event is dubbed, will look to the future as well as celebrating of the past, a fact reflected in the very programming of the festival. “We are going to bring back some of the acts that marked our history and mix them together with those who are making an impact in this day and age,” states Kovačević.

With over 20 stages and even more genres of music, Exit’s line-ups are broad and diverse, frequently seeing pop stars and leading electronic acts headlining alongside rock, and even metal, bands. A dedicated Latin stage has been present at Exit since day one, which now seems “almost prophetic”, given the global Latin music rise we see today.

“I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals, but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this”

Although line-ups are always eclectic, the billing never tends towards the generic due to the team’s habit of booking based on “gut feeling”, in addition to using data, metrics and ticket sales figures. “The irrational part of us is the one that makes a good line-up,” states Mešković. On a more personal level, the team also strive to work with the artists “who have a similar ethos to ours.”

For Exit, it is vital to “be one with the audience”, making sure every decision is guided by the wants and needs of the fan. To this end, the festival aims to keep tickets affordable, especially for the local audience. “We never want to lose our local fans,” says Kovačević, “because if we did, we would lose our soul.”

In addition to its core audience of locals, Exit’s fan base has become more and more international over the years. Fans travel to Serbia from elsewhere in Europe, as well as from Asia, America and Australia to attend the event.

“We are bringing a lot of tourism into the country,” says the Exit co-founder, explaining that the boost the festival has given to the country’s international reputation is often compared to that made by Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic.

Together with the tennis player, Exit Festival has now set up a foundation to help build nursery schools in Serbia, one example of the festival’s continuation of its social activist roots.

“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference”

Another example is Life Stream, the environmental campaign launched by Exit at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October. “The Life Stream project aims to put the festival industry at the forefront of the fight for life on the planet,” explains Kovačević.

The idea is to inject imagery, text and data relating to environmental issues into live streams from music festivals, to harness the “visibility and influence” they have for the good of the planet.

“We don’t want to show despair only,” says Mešković, “we also want to show there is some hope and to mobilise people to take action – because there is still time.”

The upcoming edition of Exit will serve as a major platform for the project, with both Kovačević and Mešković hoping other festivals will follow suit.

“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference.”

Exit 2.0 takes place from 9 to 12 July 2020 in Novi Sad, Serbia.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.