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Primavera Sound 2024 celebrates record numbers

A record number of visitors attended Primavera Sound’s 2024 edition, organisers have revealed.

The festival returned to Barcelona’s Parc Del Fòrum for its 22nd edition from 29 May to 2 June, headlined by Pulp, Vampire Weekend, Justice, Lana Del Rey, The National, Disclosure, SZA, PJ Harvey, Mitski and Charli XCX.

In total, the weekend’s 253 concerts drew an overall attendance of 268,000, including 130,000 unique visitors – 15,000 more than last year. Fans attended from 134 countries, with more than half (59%) coming from outside Spain.

“This makes us the biggest festival in Spain and one of the biggest in Europe,” says Marta Pallarès, Primavera Sound’s head of press, as per Catalan News.

Pallarès adds that 40,000 ticket-holders were Barcelona residents. “We are not a festival that lives only from external visitors,” she points out.

Speaking to IQ last month, Pallarès said: “We are still one of the cheapest festivals compared to our direct competitors. The median price is around €280 if you compare early bird up to the last batch of tickets – €5 cheaper than last year. Taking into account recession and inflation, it’s quite impressive.

“We are very well aware of the fact that it’s not easy times for anyone financially. People are choosing to spend their time and money with us so we have to work till we can give them the best experience. I always like to say that we work all year long to give the audience the best weekend of that year.”

“Primavera Sound is the second most economically important event in Barcelona, after Mobile World Congress”

Meanwhile, co-director Alfonso Lanza predicts the festival’s economic impact on the city will be in the region of €200 million, up from €180m in 2023.

“Primavera Sound is the second most economically important event in Barcelona, after Mobile World Congress,” he says.

He adds that festival staff pulled out all the stops to minimise disruption for local residents, saying they “worked particularly well” to address concerns around sound and cleanliness, adding that the people who live closest to the venue were “very satisfied with the level of control”.

Primavera Porto starts tomorrow at Parque da Cidade, Porto, with Lana Del Rey and SZA heading a female-dominated bill, as Primavera continues to pave the way for gender-balanced festival lineups. Mitski, PJ Harvey, Kim Petras, Pulp, The National, Justice, Ethical Cain and This Is The Kit are also among the 48 names due to perform at the 11th edition, scheduled for 6-8 June.

Primavera Sound Barcelona 2025 has been confirmed for 5-7 June. The festival took place in both Barcelona and Madrid in 2023, but organisers described the latter as “one of the most complicated” editions of Primavera Sound and chose not to proceed with a sequel.

The brand is also returning to Latin America in 2024 after attracting close to 350,000 people across its events in the region last year. Primavera Day Montevideo will premiere on 21 November, followed by the third editions of Primavera Sound Buenos Aires (23-24 November) and São Paulo (30 November-1 December), with Primavera Day Asunción set for 29 November.

Plus, Bogotá, Lima and Santiago will again host Road to Primavera concerts.

 


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Yourope releases diversity and inclusion toolset

Yourope has developed and released the 3F Diversity & Inclusion Toolset for the European festival sector.

The toolset, which is free to use for any festival or cultural event, is a curated collection of resources that can help festival organisers make their event more diverse and inclusive for fans, artists and staff.

It forms part of the European festival association’s three-year project, Future-Fit Festivals (3F). Resources include guides, tests, checklists, interviews, databases, other toolkits, roadmaps, reports, games and action plans.

Chapters are dedicated to: Accessibility & Inclusion, Anti-Racism Work & Diversity, Gender & Sexual Equity, Consciousness & Responsibility, Allyship and good-practice stories. The team has also assembled a glossary. In addition, there is a ‘Diversity Mission Statement’ that festivals are free to copy and adapt to their own event. The toolset can be found here.

“When we talk to festival organisers about diversity at their events, we sometimes hear that they would like to do more, but they don’t know where to start. They’re afraid of doing something wrong, saying the wrong thing, and the potential backlash that might cause, so they don’t touch the topic,” says Yourope’s Katharina Weber, contributor and editor of the toolset.

“If your festival is already doing great, but you’d like to get inspiration and ideas to do even better, this is for you”

“With this toolset, we give festival organisers a chance to fight this insecurity. It’s a place to start their diversity journey. Our project team did the research and assessed many resources on accessible, diverse and equal events, so festival organisers don’t have to do it. On top, we hope to inspire them with our stories about good-practice examples from festivals that show how more diversity and inclusion can be achieved.”

The toolset is the result of a collaboration of experts from the Yourope network such as Roskilde Festival (DK), Primavera Sound (ES), Flow Festival (FI), Höme – Für Festivals (DE), Open’er Festival (PL) and OpenAir St.Gallen (CH), supported by an advisory board of external experts from different countries and backgrounds. Their tasks were to check the team’s unconscious biases and to ensure that the texts are representative of the groups of people this toolset is dedicated to.

“Something stuck with me after a short conversation with the awareness team at Reeperbahn Festival in 2023,” adds Yourope board member Marta Pallarès, head of press at Primavera Sound and co-developer of the toolset. “They handed me a little sticker, a perfect form of a circle made with these words: ‘It’s a process it’s a process it’s a process.’ And indeed, making our festivals better, safer, more diverse and more inclusive is a process: the more you know, the more you realise the things you still don’t.

“And if you are just getting introduced to these concepts, finding where to start can feel overwhelming, even if you might sense that the moment to begin is now. This is the main goal of our toolset: if your festival is already doing great, but you’d like to get inspiration and ideas to do even better, this is for you. And if you want to start somewhere but you don’t know how, this is for you as well.”

 


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Primavera’s Marta Pallarès talks booking strategy

Primavera Sound’s Marta Pallarès has spoken to IQ about the 2024 edition, which kicks off today in Barcelona.

This year marks a return to form for the Spanish festival, which took place in both Barcelona and Madrid in 2023. Organisers described the latter as “one of the most complicated” editions of Primavera Sound and chose not to proceed with a sequel.

The flagship event returns to Parc Del Fòrum for a 22nd edition, headlined by Pulp, Vampire Weekend, Justice, Lana Del Rey, The National, Disclosure, SZA, PJ Harvey, Mitski and Charli XCX.

Having set a precedent for gender-balanced lineups in 2019, the 75,000-capacity flagship has once again delivered a diverse and heavy-hitting bill, leaving ‘pale, male and stale‘ festivals in the dust.

In the following Q&A, Pallarès reveals the festival’s progressive booking strategy, discusses its pressing challenges and mulls the brand’s expansion opportunities…

How have ticket sales been for Primavera Sound 2024?
MP: We are selling wonderfully. We typically have really strong sales in the last week before the festival so we’re expecting 65–70,000 fans on Thursday and Saturday, and up to 75,000 on Friday – that’s the ‘Lana’ [Del Rey] effect.

Despite reports of a ‘headliner drought‘ Primavera has secured a raft of big-name acts for 2024. How has the booking process been for this edition?
We work very far in advance. We have been doing that for years but it’s very crucial now. Bookings like Lana’s might take 35 months, for example. So now, we are talking to artists for the next edition but also some headliners for 2026. That’s the way to secure big names before they decide to do stadium shows or organise a tour. But there’s also a risk [with this approach]. How do you know if an artist will still be relevant in two years? How do you know that the budget you have for them is going to be appropriate in two years? It’s very difficult to [take this approach] unless you have a very solid relationship with agents and agencies. And you have to have a strong taste of what you are programming because otherwise, you might find yourself in two years with something that’s a complete flop. So we are very happy this hasn’t happened to us.

“Gender balance is not only about numbers, it’s also the position or the spotlight you’re giving those artists”

How’s the gender balance looking for this year’s festival?
When we released we were 42% female, 42% male and 18% mixed acts but [after last-minute changes], I think we might have more female than male artists now. This is if you’re counting [binary] genders only. We started counting non-binary artists last year. In that way, the lineup is even more diverse because we have a small percentage of non-binary artists.

Gender balance is not only about numbers, it’s also about the position or the spotlight you’re giving those artists. It’s not okay if you just say, ‘I have 50 female acts but none of them is a headliner’. If you take a look into Saturday, it’s almost exclusively women: SZA PJ Harvey, Mitski, Charli XCX, Bikini Kill, Roisin Murphy, Romy, 070 Shake, Atarashii Gakkoi, Dorian Electra and Earth Eater. It’s three lines of women at the top of the bill. We truly believe that they are there because they deserve to be there.

“We are a ‘full festival ticket’ festival… that means we need to programme really strong days every day”

How does Primavera’s booking team manage the bill diversity?
Everything is colour-coded so we can see if we are lacking different ethnicities – if we don’t have enough artists from Asia for example, we are also looking at that. Gender-wise, we also code artists so the moment you see too much of one colour, we’re not doing well. And then our motto is “think more” –  that’s what the bookers say all the time.

What are the other challenges with booking, in the current climate?
We are a ‘full festival ticket’ festival; we don’t rely that much on day tickets. That’s what we have always been. That means we need to programme really strong days every day. It’s not just okay to have your big headliner on Friday and that’s it. We know that typically people come for the full festival experience and that’s not that common for our intel from other festivals.

We are very well aware of the fact that it’s not easy times for anyone financially. People are choosing to spend their time and money with us so we have to work till we can give them the best experience. I always like to say that we work all year long to give the audience the best weekend of that year.

“Technical riders are more complex than ever”

Has Primavera made any changes to ticket prices this year?
We are still one of the cheapest festivals compared to our direct competitors. The median price is around €280 if you compare early bird up to the last batch of tickets – €5 cheaper than last year. Taking into account recession and inflation, it’s quite impressive.

Tell us about some of the challenges Primavera is experiencing.
Technical riders are more complex than ever. A lot of artists are coming to the festival and bringing shows that before would be only for stadiums, like Dua Lipa in 2022 who brought with her a catwalk and everything. But our biggest challenge is securing stability in our venue. We work with contracts that are four-year leases and now we are in the middle of one of those. We need to work with stability because we’re booking two years ahead. We really need to know that we can continue our festival here because Parc Del Forum is something that you can’t find anywhere else. Fortunately, we are on excellent terms with Barcelona Town Hall. Another challenge that we might face is accommodation in Barcelona. Right now Primavera Sound is the biggest event in our city – maybe even in Spain – and we have to accommodate 1,200 artists and crew members for the week, as well as our staff.

“Weather is becoming an issue [in the sector] but we are lucky to be in Barcelona”

Primavera Sound Madrid’s first day proper was called off due to adverse weather, which is an increasing issue in the festival sector. Is it a concern for the Barcelona event?
We are lucky because of the time of the year. You don’t usually see extreme weather in Barcelona at the end of May/the beginning of June. Of course, anything can happen but we are monitoring that. We have meteorologists on our payroll and receive daily reports so production can know that if we’re expecting winds this afternoon, then we should switch the order of the production so everything runs smoothly. Weather is becoming an issue [in the sector] but we are lucky to be in Barcelona.

Primavera’s global footprint has rapidly expanded in the last few years. Do you have any new editions or markets in the works?
Latin America is working beautifully and has always been an ongoing plan. We have two full festivals, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, and some one-day festivals and headline shows. In order to be competitive as an independent festival, we need to be able to offer several cities for those big headliners, otherwise it’s unaffordable for us and the act. So that’s the idea behind the headline shows, but they also act as a test: if we find the right partners, the right venue, the right suppliers and the right audience, we could launch a full festival in that city as well. The seven dates in Latin America are pretty much fixed right now but that might change in the future. With Montevideo [Uruguay] for example, if we sell out what we are planning there, then maybe we can decide to organise something bigger. We are always on the lookout if something cool comes up. Slow and steady is key here.

 


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IQ 105 out now: International Ticketing Report

IQ 105, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The November 2021 edition is spearheaded by the International Ticketing Report 2021: IQ’s indispensable annual health check on the global ticketing business.

As the live entertainment industry endeavours to build back its workforce, the issue also explores the world of Recruitment & Restaffing, as we speak to those responsible for creating and implementing recruitment strategies.

Elsewhere, Lisa Henderson talks to Coldplay agent Josh Javor of X-ray Touring on the remarkable ticket sales for their sustainability-focused 2022 tour – and the emotions of celebrating that success without his late mentor, the legendary Steve Strange.

For this edition’s columns and comments, we hand over to A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill and Primavera Sound’s Marta Pallarès.

And, in this month’s Your Shout, we ask the industry to recount their favourite (or least favourite) horror story from their career.

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

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

 


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We can’t afford to go back to pale, male and stale

Health passports, fast testing, social distancing, rapid screenings: the industry has been grappling with more medical concepts in the last year than it ever had to before.

Getting back to business; finding ways to reopen venues and stage festivals; getting technicians back to their sound desks and musicians back on stage, is all we’ve thought and talked about during the past 12 months.

But is that everything? All of it? Perhaps the question shouldn’t simply be when is the industry resuming but how and with whom?

Perhaps the question shouldn’t simply be when is the industry resuming but how and with whom?

Because we can’t afford to go back to pale, male and stale music festivals, to companies overwhelmingly ruled by men, to soundchecks where as far as the eyes can see it’s Johns and Jacks and Martins – not that we want them to disappear, we just want them to share their space with us Janes, Jackies and Martas.

It’s been two years since Primavera Sound sent a message to the world: a gender-balanced lineup can be achieved. When we released that line-up, we said that equality and dismantling gender barriers should be normal, and yet, in spite of the fact that we claimed that that edition would be the one in which everything changed… it didn’t.

Two years after becoming the first major festival with a 50/50 gender split, we haven’t seen much of a change. In fact, the situation has only got worse for women thanks to the pandemic. The biggest problem now is not only the ongoing systemic inactivity but the depressing thought that the pandemic can, and will, be used as an excuse to avoid taking the much-needed next steps.

It’s not about the lack of female artists or headliners: it’s the lack of willingness to book them or give them the rank they deserve

At Primavera, we know how challenging this process can be, maybe even more than the promoters and festivals that still refuse to be more diverse. In the end, we set our own standard: we have to live up to that past achievement, and keep honouring it.

2019 was an amazing year for music made by women: Rosalía, Janelle Monáe, Robyn, Erykah Badu, Chris from Christine & the Queens and many more, made it really easy for us. But was that programme just a once in a lifetime? Not really.

The next year proved us right, thanks to Lana del Rey, Bikini Kill, Kacey Musgraves and Brittany Howard. So it’s not about the lack of female artists, or even female headliners: it’s about the lack of willingness to book them or give them the rank they deserve. In the end, if they are the ones who chart the highest and win all the awards, shouldn’t they be also topping our line-ups?

In 2019, Primavera Sound’s [gender-balanced line-up] sold more day tickets than ever, up to 65,000

So, let’s talk business. Does a gender-balanced line-up translate into revenue? In 2019, Primavera Sound sold more day tickets than ever, up to 65,000. That Saturday, 1 June, Rosalía, Solange and Lizzo shared a line-up with James Blake, Jarvis Cocker and Stereolab, as well as the biggest Colombian reggaeton artist, J Balvin.

Isn’t this how real diversity should look (and be heard)? Even our partners at the UN SDG Action Campaign thought so.

Whilst I don’t pretend to be an expert on this matter, by any means, let’s ask Google how a more diverse and inclusive environment can and will improve any company.

I remember moderating a panel last year at Primavera Pro. We were already asking ‘What’s Next?’ because we suspected that 2020 could be the perfect time to pause and reflect on our work. In that panel, we were inspired by Fruzsina Szép (director of Lollapalooza Berlin and Superbloom Munich) and her approach to the pandemic: her whole team was taking much-needed time to take a deeper look at their festivals and to think how they wanted them to be, not how they had to be.

It’s not about being perfect, the real challenge is to do better

Why shouldn’t we use this crisis as an opportunity to fix systemic issues – that are more deep-rooted and insidious than a virus – instead of as an excuse?

We understand that competition can be fierce, but saying that line-ups prior to the pandemic have to be honoured feels cheap. Crazy thought: what if they had already been diverse in 2020? To all the festivals who pledged to achieve gender equality in 2022 and to all of those who were already trying to do better, please don’t take a rain-check due to the pandemic; you are doing a great job. It’s not about being perfect, the real challenge is to do better, no matter how small each step may seem.

We have this chance to start planting in empty fields, as nothing is written in stone anymore. If we don’t have a clue what it’s going to be like when we programme festivals again, if we lose all the benefits of a stable landscape, why should we inherit its problems?

 


Marta Pallarès is head of international press & PR for Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain.

Primavera Sound to hold in-person concert series

Primavera Sound has announced an in-person concert series, set to launch at the Coliseum Theatre in Barcelona, this April.

Organisers of the Spanish festival say that the concerts – which are co-produced with the venue’s owners, Grup Balañá – will take place “in the closest possible format” to a traditional seated show, whilst complying with current sanitary measures.

The series, dubbed ‘Coliseum Nights’, will see performances from Swedish singer-songwriter José González, Seville collective Califato ¾ and Derby Motoreta’s Burrito Kachimba.

Coliseum Nights will take place between 26 April and 2 May. Tickets cost between €18-30.

“When the sad first anniversary approaches since live music stopped sounding the way we were used to, we need to reconnect with the artists in an environment as similar as possible to before. With the majority of the concert halls still closed and at serious risk of disappearance, Primavera Sound will be installed for a whole week at the Coliseum Theatre in Barcelona for the Coliseum’s Nits,” reads a press release from the organisers.

“We need to reconnect with the artists in an environment as similar as possible to before”

Primavera Sound was forced to cancel its 2020 festival, despite rescheduling from June to August, but organisers reported that this year’s edition of Primavera Sound Barcelona sold out of all full festival tickets and day tickets in just ten days.

Even in the absence of its flagship event, Primavera has been busy hosting one-off concert series and test events in Spain.

Last year, the Spanish promoter hosted an outdoor concert series at the Parc del Fòrum outdoor amphitheatre in Barcelona, where the flagship festival would typically take place.

The 70-show series was specifically designed to comply with all social distancing regulations, capacity and hygiene rules.

Dubbed ‘Fòrum Nights’, the event launched at the end of June and featured performances from the likes of Hinds, Mala Rodríguez and Dorian.

A few months after wrapping the series, Primavera teamed up with Hospital Germans Trias in Barcelona and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation to organise a concert at Barcelona’s Sala Apolo to show whether rapid testing could hold the key to staging concerts without social distancing.

The clinical trial found that a live music concert performed under a series of safety measures, including a negative antigen test, is ‘not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections’.

Primavera Sound’s Marta Pallarès will be discussing how the festival continually achieves a gender-balanced line-up at this year’s ILMC session Gender Equality: The Next Level. Register for the conference here.

 


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