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Sweden rules out major festivals this summer

The Swedish government’s new roadmap has hammered the final nail in the coffin of the country’s 2021 festival summer by ruling out major events until at least September.

The three-stage plan seals the fate of Swedish festivals – most of which have already pulled the plug.

Way Out West (12–14 August) is the latest major Swedish festival to be called off and follows high-profile cancellations from Sweden Rock (9–12 June), Lollapalooza Stockholm (2–5 July) and Statement Festival (3–4 September).

Regional events including Urkult, Bingsjöstämman, Storsjöyran, Dance Band Week in Malung, Gefle Metal, Putte in the Park (Karlstad and Luleå), Kiruna Festival and Uppsala Reggae previously called time on 2021 editions.

The roadmap, proposed by the Swedish Public Health Agency and commissioned by the government, suggests that from 1 June (stage three) outdoor events can take place with 500 seated and socially distanced attendees or with 100 standing.

Sweden Rock, Lollapalooza Stockholm, Way Out West and Statement Festival have been called off

Indoor events can take place with either 50 seated and socially distanced attendees or just eight standing.

Dates for the next two levels have not yet been given but the Public Health Agency believes that stage two will come into effect later in June or July, which is when outdoor events can take place with 3,000 seated and socially distanced attendees.

The majority of capacity limits will likely be scrapped in early September, which will mark stage one of the roadmap.

The Swedish government has been notably strict with restrictions for live music. In November, it imposed one of the lowest capacity limits in Europe, permitting just eight people indoors – a limit that, according to the roadmap, may not be lifted until July.

Sweden is the latest European market to pull the plug on the 2021 festival season due to uncertainty about the 2021 festival season, following widespread cancellations in Norway, Germanythe UKSwitzerlandDenmark and France.


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Sweden rules vouchers are not valid form of compensation

Sweden’s National Board for Consumer Disputes (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden, ARN) has declared that ticketholders are entitled to a cash refund for any events cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19.

The government agency has declared that organisers that have been forced to cancel or move events due to coronavirus-related restrictions cannot “avoid having to repay [the] money” unless a contractual condition states otherwise.

The principle of force majeure, says the ARN, does not exempt companies from the obligation to repay the cost of the service that has not been delivered, but rather applies to limiting liability.

“Anyone who does not get the agreed output, e.g. the opportunity to participate in an activity or to go to a concert, is therefore basically not obligated to pay for it,” comments ARN chairman and CEO Marcus Isgren.

In many countries in Europe, including Germany, Portugal and Italy, concert organisers are being allowed to offer ticket vouchers (ie credit) in lieu of cash refunds for cancelled events, as promoters warn that mass refunds may well lead to bankruptcies.

“Anyone who does not get the agreed output is therefore not obligated to pay for it”

However, ARN states that offering customers a voucher to attend the same event on a different date is not a valid form of reimbursement, as the chosen date “is usually crucial” to the consumer’s decision to buy the ticket.

“It is therefore not possible for the organiser to compel [the consumer] without their consent to accept that the tickets will be valid for a corresponding event another day,” says Isgren.

Despite ARN’s announcement, Joppe Pihlgren, head of Swedish live music association Svensk Live, says many fans “want to support concerts and organisers” and would rather wait until they can attend the event, than get their money back.

“As an industry we need the information on how and when we can restart,” Pihlgren tells Swedish publication Västerbottens-Kuriren. “I understand it is difficult, bu we need to know so we can plan ahead. This is essential for our operations.”

Unlike the vast majority of European countries, Sweden has kept some of its economy, such as restaurants, bars and shops, open throughout the coronavirus crisis. The government has placed a capacity limit of 50 on live events, leading to the cancellation of Way Out West, Lollapalooza Stockholm and Sweden Rock.

 


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Macron: No French festivals until mid-July

French festival favourites including Eurockéennes de Belfort, Solidays, Festival d’Avignon and Main Square are no longer taking place this year, as the government extends its ban on large gatherings until mid-July at the earliest.

The news follows similar lengthening of event bans in Austria, where large gatherings are banned until the end of June, and Denmark, which will be festival free until 31 August.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday (13 April) that the country’s lockdown will last until 11 May, with schools and day centres reopening on that date. However, many businesses including restaurants, bars, music venues, and theatres will remain shuttered.

No festivals or other public events are expected to take place until “at least mid-July”.

The cancellations of Eurockéennes, Solidays and Festival d’Avignon add to those of fellow French festivals Hellfest and Lollapalooza Paris, which were called off last week. The Stockholm edition of the Lollapalooza festival brand was also cancelled last week, although the franchise’s Berlin event is going ahead from 5 to 6 September.

“From the very first news of the lockdown, this cancellation seemed unavoidable,” reads a statement from the organisers of Eurockéennes, winner of the best festival award at this year’s Arthurs.

The event, which was attended by 130,000 people in 2019, was due to take place from 2 to 4 July, featuring acts including Massive Attack, the Lumineers, Foals, Burna Boy, Cage the Elephant and Marc Rebillet. Refund information will be available from 20 April.

“It has now become a reality. Unfortunately this cancellation presents some serious questions about the future of the festival and of (non-profit festival organiser) Territoire de Musiques. Facing a complex financial situation, Eurockéennes will suffer long-term from this dark year.”

“The decision to cancel the festival is one of the most difficult ones we have ever had to make”

Main Square festival, due to take place from 3 to 5 July in the city of Arras, is another event to lose its 2020 edition. “This is obviously a blow to all of us, but your enthusiasm gives us the energy we need to offer you next year what will be the most beautiful edition of the festival in Arras,” reads a statement from organisers.

Sting, Twenty One Pilots, Tones and I, Black Eyed Peas, Sum 41 and Roger Hodgson were among artists billed to play the sold-out event. Tickets will remain valid for the 2021 event, with details of the refund process to be announced in coming weeks.

Solidays festival (70,000-cap.), scheduled to take place at Paris’ Longchamp Hippodrome from 19 to 21 June featuring Anderson Paak, Aya Nakamura, Black Eyed Peas and Metronomy, also announced its cancellation following Macron’s announcement.

“The decision to cancel the festival is one of the most difficult ones we have ever had to make,” says the team at Solidays, which is organised by French AIDS awareness group Solidarité Sida.

Refunds will be available from the start of May, say organisers, adding that, given the situation, “perhaps some will choose not to ask for one”.

Festival d’Avignon, a multi-venue festival of theatre due to take place from 3 to 23 July across the city of Avignon, is another to cancel due to the ban extension, with organisers saying: “We have held out hope for as long as it was possible but the situation has called for another outcome. Our duty now is to preserve and invent the future of Avignon Festival.”

The drama festival was set to celebrate its 74th outing in 2020.

Other French festivals including Festival de Nîmes, scheduled from 16 June to 24 July, Lyon’s Nuits Sonores, which was initially postponed from the end of May until 22 to 26 July, and Vieilles Charrues, set for 16 to 19 July, have also called off their 2020 outings.

 


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Luger expands into Norway

Swedish concert promoter and festival organiser Luger is expanding into Norway, opening an office in Oslo to strengthen its presence in the Scandinavian market.

Luger now operates in three Scandinavian markets, adding to its Swedish headquarters and its Danish office, which opened in Copenhagen in 2018, led by Sarah Sølvsteen.

The expansion into Norway follows the bolstering of a fellow European promoter’s presence in the country last month, with FKP Scorpio’s acquisition of a majority stake in booking agency Nordic Live.

Luger’s new Norwegian office will be headed up by Torgeir Gullaksen, a veteran promoter with over 20 years’ experience putting on shows and events in the country. Gullaksen joined Gunnar Eide Concerts (now Live Nation Norway) in the late 90s, founding his own promotions company, Goldstar (now FKP Scorpio Norway), in 2005.

The Luger Norway head has worked with acts including Arctic Monkeys, Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead, Rival Sons, Tame Impala, The Black Keys, Ben Howard, Arcade fire, Belle & Sebastian and Michael Kiwanuka.

“My aim is to firmly establish Luger as a strong brand in Norway”

“I’m delighted to be joining the Luger family and look forward to working close with Ola and the rest of the team,” comments Gullaksen. “Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Luger on both international and domestic acts and consider them the best in class in developing new talent over here.

“My aim is to firmly establish Luger as a strong brand in Norway and continue working with the acts I already have existing relations with, as well as become the natural promoter for emerging acts in Norway.”

Luger Sweden MD Ola Broquist adds that Gullaksen is “a great person, a great promoter and a music lover – the ultimate combination.”

Luger is one of the Nordic’s leading promoters, as well as acting as an agency and tour producer for Swedish artists. The company promotes over 300 a year, in addition to festivals including Way Out West, Åre Sessions and – together with C3 and Live Nation Sweden – Lollapalooza Stockholm.

 


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Festival Fever: a further glance at 2020 line-ups

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ takes a peek at what organisers of Hellfest, Longitude, Lollapalooza Stockholm, Rock am Ring/Rock im Park and NorthSide have up their sleeves for the summer to come.

(See last week’s edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Hellfest

When: 19 to 21 June
Where: Clisson, France
How many: 50,000

French metal festival Hellfest celebrated one of its best editions ever last year, which included an extra day to host the Slipknot-fronted Knotfest within the festival site.

The 2020 festival will feature headliners Deftones, Faith No More and System of a Down, playing alongside Incubus, Korn, Deep Purple and Judas Priest.

Earlier this year, a man was sentenced to a month in prison for hacking into the onsale of the French festival. The hacker, who works in cybersecurity, claimed he had only wanted to buy tickets to Hellfest 2020 “without having to queue”.

Tickets for Hellfest 2020 are sold out. Organisers advise fans to use fan-to-fan resale site TicketSwap to buy or sell tickets to the festival.

The 2020 festival will feature headliners Deftones, Faith No More and System of a Down

Longitude

When: 5 to 7 July
Where: Marlay Park, Dublin, Ireland
How many: 40,000

MCD Productions’ Longitude festival is returning in 2020 with headline performances from Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Asap Rocky.

The event will also see performances from the likes of J Hus, AJ Tracey, Young Thug, Aitch, Playboi Carti and Dababy.

The Longitude line-up announcement comes shortly after the news that Denis Desmond-led MCD is bringing back alternative-rock festival Sunstroke in 2020. The event, which takes place from 13 to 14 June at Punchestown Racecourse near Naas in Ireland, features headliners Faith No More and Deftones.

Tickets for Longitude festival are available here, priced at €89.50 (£75) for a day ticket and €199.50 (£168) for a weekend pass. Tickets for Sunstroke can be bought here, with day tickets costing €79.50 (£67) and weekend camping tickets costing €169.50 (£143).

Longitude festival is returning with headline performances from Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Asap Rocky

Lollapalooza Stockholm

When: 26 to 28 June
Where: Gärdet, Stockholm, Sweden

The debut edition of Lollapalooza Stockholm took place last year, signalling the festival franchise’s first edition in Scandinavia and third in Europe after Lolla Berlin and Paris.

The festival, which is produced by Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell, WME, C3 Presents and Live Nation Sweden with subsidiary company Luger, features headline performances from Post Malone, Pearl Jam, the Killers and Kendrick Lamar, as well as appearances from Ellie Goulding, Zara Larsson, Kacey Musgraves and Camila Cabello.

Launched in Chicago in 1991, Lollapalooza events now take place in Sweden, France, Germany, Chile, Brazil and Argentina, as well as the US.

Three-day early bird passes are available here for SEK 2,295 (£185).

The debut edition of Lollapalooza Stockholm took place last year

Rock am Ring/Rock im Park

When: 5 to 7 June
Where: Nürburgring race track/Zeppelinfeld, Nürnberg, Germany
How many: 90,000

Marek Lieberberg’s twin festivals Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, the biggest in Germany and among the largest in the world, are turning 35 and 25 respectively in 2020.

Headliners for the anniversary events come in the form of System of a Down, Green Day and Volbeat, with performances also coming from Babymetal, Korn, Gojira, Deftones, the Offspring, Weezer and Yungblud.

The past two editions of the festivals have proved successful, following three years plagued by inclement weather and possible terror threats.

Tickets for Rock am Ring and Rock im Park are available here for €194 (£163) and Rock im Park here for €244 (£205).

Headliners for the anniversary events come in the form of System of a Down, Green Day and Volbeat

NorthSide

When: 4 to 6 June
Where: Aarhus, Denmark
How many: 40,000

The 2020 edition of Down the Drain’s NorthSide festival will be the last at its current site in the Ådalen river valley, near the Danish city of Aarhus, as the event prepares to move to a new site, more than twice the size of its original home, in Eskelund, also near Aarhus.

Described as ‘a controlled chaos’ by festival CEO Brian Nielsen, NorthSide has already confirmed acts for 2020 including Green Day, Robyn, Weezer, White Lies, Johnny Marr, Franc Moody and Jung.

Down the Drain Group, which wholly acquired the festival from FKP Scorpio in 2018, earlier this year received investment from Providence Equity-backed Superstruct Entertainment.

Tickets for NorthSide 2020 are available here, priced at DDK 1,935 (£218) for a full festival pass and DDK 1,195 (£135) for a day ticket.

 


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Pearl Jam line up 13-date European summer

Pearl Jam are embarking on a European tour this summer, with nine arena dates scheduled around the continent and four headline festival shows.

The band’s summer tour kicks off on 23 June 2020 at Frankfurt’s Festhalle (13,500-cap.) – the group’s first show in the German city since 1992 – ending a month later at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam (17,000-cap.).

The tour includes four festival headline appearances at Lollapalooza Stockholm (27 June) and Paris (19 July), Rock Werchter Festival in Belgium (2 July) and British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park in the UK (10 July).

Pearl Jam are also visiting arenas in Berlin (Waldbuhne, 22,290-cap.), Copenhagen (Royal Arena, 13,000-cap.), Vienna (Wiener Stadhalle, 16,000-cap.), Krakow (Tauron Arena, 18,000-cap.), Budapest (Budapest Arena, 12,500-cap.) and Zurich (Hallenstadion, 15,000-cap.).

Pearl Jam are embarking on a European tour this summer, with nine arena dates and four headline festival shows

The band is also playing at the 60,000-capacity Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari race track in Imola, Italy.

Support acts for the arena and race track shows are Pixies, Idles and White Reaper.

Tickets go on sale for all concert dates and the BST Hyde Park show on Saturday 7 December at 10 a.m. GMT. As of yesterday (1 December), Pearl Jam Ten club members can access a pre-sale on all non-festival tickets.

Lollapalooza Stockholm tickets are on sale now at the early-bird price of SEK 2,295 (£186), with tickets for the Paris edition becoming available on 4 December at 10 a.m. CET. Rock Werchter tickets go on sale on 6 December at 10 a.m. CET.

A full list of tour dates and support acts can be found here.

 


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The New Bosses 2019: Sophie Lobl, C3 Presents

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the September edition of IQ Magazine.

All interviews have now been reproduced in full online and on IQ Index, but this is not the last you will hear from these promising young execs. The New Bosses will play a key role in the forthcoming edition of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March. 

The final new boss is Sophie Lobl (28), global festival buyer at C3 Presents in Texas. Born in London, Lobl made her way to the United States after graduating from Leeds University in the UK. Starting her career at BBC Radio 1, she later went to WME, where she worked her way up from a receptionist to assisting Russell Warby, Ari Emanuel and, finally, Marc Geiger in the LA office.

In 2019, Lobl relocated to Texas to work for C3 in the newly created role of global festival buyer, where she works closely with the European Live Nation team on artist offers for 197 festivals worldwide. (Read the previous interview with United Talent Agency’s Sara Schoch here).

 


What are you busy with right now?
Booking festivals for 2020. We are in the middle of booking all the line ups for next year and about to announce the Austin City Limits schedule!

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Pretty much. I actually initially wanted to work in radio. I produced and presented a couple of shows on my student radio station in Leeds which led me into working as an assistant producer at Radio 1 and 1Xtra – I thought I was going to be Annie Mac! Then I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Working on Tom Petty’s last tour is one of the greatest memories I’ll ever have. He was a lovely man. Launching Lollapalooza Stockholm is also a true career highlight. We’re very excited for 2020, it looks like we’ll have a great line up.

“I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that”

How has your role changed since you started out?
It’s changed drastically. I went from working on reception and making coffee, to being (several) agents’ assistants, to now booking and managing my own multi-stage festivals. None of it was planned, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. C3 is an awesome company and I am incredibly excited about the projects I get to work on and also about some of the new projects we have in the pipeline.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at C3?
That’s a big question. I think never being afraid of trying something new is the main one. Launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting. Luckily, we have incredible partners on our international festivals that save us from losing our jobs.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I think just more inclusiveness generally across the board. It really is getting better and there are now far more opportunities for women and other minorities. But that shouldn’t even really be a thing, should it? C3 actually has a majority of women employees, especially in senior management positions. I think other companies are following suit.

“Never being afraid of trying something new is important – launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting”

What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my French Bulldog. His name is Francis. You should follow him on Instagram (@francislefrenchie).

Do you have an industry mentor?
[Live Nation vice president fo European Touring] Kelly Chappell has been my mentor, saviour and sister since the beginning of time. She really is the best. I don’t know anyone that works harder or that has such an incredible attention to detail as she has. She is so knowledgeable and wise and deserves all the recognition I can give her.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Work your bum off. None of this is easy and, although it may look glamorous, it really isn’t sometimes. But the hard work pays off and it really is worth it.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Sitting at home with ten french bulldogs? Probably doing exactly what I’m doing now. Maybe just a little better. C3 & S doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it?

 


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Festival weekend: Glasto, Lolla, Community bake in the sun

It was a scorching weekend for European festivals, as music events across the continent were bathed in sun amid a Europe-wide heatwave.

At the UK’s Glastonbury Festival, the mercury hit 31°C (88°F) on Saturday 29 June, with fans braving one of the hottest-ever days at the famed event to see acts including Liam Gallagher, Janet Jackson and headliners the Killers, who brought on Pet Shop Boys and Johnny Marr in one of the most talked-about sets of the festival.

Grime star Stormzy played a politically charged headline show on Friday, wearing a union jack-emblazoned stabproof fest and interspersing his hits with video clips discussing racial division and social inequality, while the Cure brought down the curtain on the festival last night.

Sunday at Glastonbury also saw a surprise appearance by naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who praised the festival for ditching single-use plastics this year – though the decision to do away with disposable plastic bottles was identified by many UK newspapers as the cause of up-to-hour-long queues for drinking water. (Cans of water were reportedly available for a steep £2 each.)

Sunday at Glastonbury also saw a surprise appearance by naturalist Sir David Attenborough

In a statement, Glasto refuted rumours of a water shortage, saying all bars were offering free tap water. “Water is also being given out from our info points, and we have roving teams providing water from backpacks,” it said.

Also sweltering in the summer sun was the inaugural Lollapalooza Stockholm, which welcomed 56,000 people to the Gärdet area of the Swedish capital on 28–30 June.

Mixing pop, hip hop and rock, Lolla Sweden headliners were Travis Scott and Lana Del Rey on Friday, Foo Fighters and Swedish singer-songwriter Laleh on Saturday, and Chance the Rapper and Lil Uzi Vert on Sunday.

“More than 56,000 fans have laughed, danced, eaten, drunk, hugged and experienced three days of world-class live music in beautiful Gärdet,” says organiser Live Nation Sweden. “Stockholm, and all Lolla Stockholm fans, are now officially part of the international Lolla family. This is just the beginning…”

During the festival, Roskilde becomes the fourth-biggest city in Denmark

Back in the UK, one-day Festival Republic event Community Festival celebrated its best year to date, with 35,000 people gathering in Finsbury Park, north London, for its indie-centric line-up featuring the Kooks, Blossoms, the Amazons, Gerry Cinnamon and Kate Nash.

In Denmark, Roskilde week got underway, as campers began pitching their tents for Roskilde Festival, starting with the traditional ritual of knocking down the fence before finding a camping spot on its 2.5 million square-metre site. (During the festival, Roskilde becomes the fourth-biggest city in Denmark.)

Roskilde 2019 – the 49th – begins with a show by Swedish rapper Silvana Imam on the main Orange stage on Wednesday, and continues through to Saturday 6 July, with headliners including Bob Dylan, Cardi B, Travis Scott, Robyn and The Cure.

Also beginning this week is Broadwick’s Hideout beach festival in Croatia, whose pool parties kick off today. And with temperatures in Novalja expected to remain around the 32°C (90°F) mark all week, festivalgoers are going to need all the water they can get…

 


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Wireless to return to Germany in 2019

After taking a hiatus in 2018, Live Nation will stage its Wireless festival in Germany for the second time next summer.

American rapper Travis Scott will headline Wireless Germany 2019, which takes place on 5 and 6 July at the new greenfield venue of Alter Rebstockpark (40,000-daily cap.) in Frankfurt. (The inaugural Wireless Germany, in 2017, took place at Commerzbank Arena in the same city.)

Other performers include James Blake, Rae Sremmurd, J Balvin, Rita Ora and Migos, as well as local hip-hop acts Marteria & Casper and Bonez MC & RAF Camora.

Two-day GA tickets are priced from €139, which also includes tickets for public transport to and from Rebstock Park, described as a “green oasis in the middle of the metropolis” of Frankfurt.

The festival will additionally feature “breakdance performances, street art, fashion, chill-out areas, open-air shisha bars” and more, according to the launch announcement.

Scott has also been announced as a headliner of the inaugural Lollapalooza Stockholm, announced by Live Nation in May, alongside Foo Fighters, Lana Del Rey and Swedish artist Laleh.

 


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