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Perfect partnerships: 2022’s innovative activations

Sponsorship is a key revenue stream for festivals, whilst music and arts events are excellent ways for companies and charities to expose their messages to receptive audiences. In an excerpt from IQ and Yourope’s European Festival Report, we profile some of the most innovative partnerships in 2022.

Roskilde: Culturography
Commercial partnerships are key for most festivals, with many companies eager to benefit from the association with a festival brand and access to its audience. However, it’s important to create an activation that not only aligns with the company’s goals but matches the audience’s expectations without damaging the event’s reputation.

But how do you ensure your partnership brand is met with approval by festivalgoers? How do you know the partner you’re working with won’t be viewed negatively by them? And even if they are receptive to your brand/message, how do you calculate the success of the activation when the measurements of success are not as sophisticated as they could be.

Well, thanks to a new big data collaboration with Aalborg University’s techno-anthropologists (yes, they do exist), Roskilde festival in Denmark might have solved these issues.

Together they have created a new online open-source platform called Culturography, which enables organisations to understand and visualise how their target group – and the broader public – engages in different aspects of societal issues online.

Roskilde’s online tool analyses social media posts from fans and the public that show where interests of different groups of people overlap

The online tool analyses social media posts from fans and the public that show where interests of different groups of people overlap. This use of big data enables festivals to understand whether a brand and its activities are a good fit.

“Every time we engage in a commercial partnership, there are three basic steps that we go through. There’s finding the partnership, signing the partnership, and then monetising it. This method was very helpful for all three,” says Roskilde’s head of partnerships, Andreas Groth Clausen.

“Normally, when I present the idea of a partnership with Roskilde Festival to a company, it’s just me, and I’m hoping that the person I’m talking to is a fan of a particular festival or can see the idea. With this digital database, we can actually tell them what our audience is interested in. We can show them our fans are really engaged with some of their competitors, but they’re not interacting with them. So, the starting point changed significantly when we introduced these visualisations to our partners.”

The tool also helps the festival and the brand design an activation onsite that hits the appropriate demographics, by identifying the key touchpoints certain groups are interested in. This minimises the risk of running an activation that doesn’t chime with festival-goers.

As a non-profit organisation, Roskilde festival is making the software available to everyone. But there’s still some development required – currently the data is interpreted by experts from the university, whilst the goal is to develop the software further so that it removes this requirement.

“Trasholution” incentivises people to pick up litter by gamifying the process

“That’s the last challenge for us – to build a tool that’s just plug-and-play for everybody. As good as it is right now, it’s still a work in progress, but we can make it even better. We are going to do that in the years to come,” says Groth Clausen.

FKP Scorpio: Trasholution
FKP Scorpio festivals Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, and M’era Luna launched a new concept for waste management in summer ‘22. “Trasholution” incentivises people to pick up litter by gamifying the process – and it was used to benefit social causes, too. Every full rubbish bag was counted by the festival and triggered a donation of €1 to social projects in the region of each festival. This was live-tracked and visible for all festivalgoers, further motivating them to hand in their rubbish. As soon as a donation goal was achieved, the German company launched the counter for the next one.

“This is so important because if the festival waste is separated cleanly, its recyclable materials can be sorted out much better and returned to the material cycle,” says FKP Scorpio managing director Stephan Thanscheidt. “So, we’re achieving two good things with one concept: donations for social causes, as well as more sustainability.”

Flow and Polestar
As one of the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals, Finland’s Flow fest is renowned for its environmentally friendly credentials. So, it was especially important for them to work with brands that shared its ethos.

Polestar’s commitment to bring 100% electric premium car products to the world, led them to partner with the Superstruct Entertainment-owned event to bring their brand statements to Flow’s highly eco-conscious fan community.

With a campaign aimed at building brand awareness and affinity in Finland, Polestar gave selected ticket holders exclusive drives to the festival as well as pairing with Tiilikello venue for an exclusive art installation, matching both the festival and brand’s minimalist image.

At Latitude and Wilderness, professional Bacardí mixologists offered cocktail-making classes for attendees

Live Nation and Bacardí
With 2022 being the first full year back after the pandemic, Bacardí partnered with Live Nation in the UK to join the celebrations for the return of festivals, signing a multi-year deal to be the official spirit partner across ten events.

A drinks brand could be considered an expected sponsor for a festival, which was exactly what inspired Bacardí to create spectacular spaces full of thoughtful surprises and touches.

The partners created physical spaces that became destinations in their own right at festivals. Each was tailored to the festival audience’s tastes and preferences, such as Casa Bacardí (at Reading, Parklife, and Wireless), a two-story dance destination programmed with world-renowned DJs and premium rum cocktails; or Haçienda Patrón (at Wilderness and Latitude), a Tulum-inspired space.

Bacardí also used its spaces creatively by inviting fans to experience its brands in new ways. At Latitude and Wilderness, professional Bacardí mixologists offered cocktail-making classes for attendees. Bacardí also programmed established and up-and-coming DJs at Casa Bacardí to support its Music Liberates Music initiative, an ongoing programme designed to champion underrepresented voices in the music industry.

The results reached 3m in-person attendees and 10m followers on social media.

Jay Williamson, VP of marketing partnerships for Live Nation UK, said: “The Bacardí team truly understands how live music is one of the rare things that can bring people together, and the opportunity to work with them this summer on creating lifelong memories for fans was an incredible privilege.”

Wacken Open Air partnered with brewery Krombacher to put together a band made up of rare native species under threat

Wacken Open Air and Krombacher: Growling Creatures
Have you ever heard an endangered animal sing metal? Well, now’s your chance. This year, German festival Wacken Open Air partnered with brewery Krombacher to put together a band made up of rare native species that are under threat: Growling Creatures.

To raise awareness of the plight of these animals, three songs featuring the calls of a variety of animals were released by the ‘group.’ Nest Destroyer included the sounds of the cuckoo and grey shrike over a melodic death metal tune. The brown hare and lynx contributed to metalcore banger Furry Inferno. And the female bison and grey seal joined together for death metal song Small Number Of The Beast.

The songs were released on Spotify and videos were posted on YouTube and social channels, as well as running on stage screens between bands. Band T-shirts were also sold.

All proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) of Germany.

“The audience response as well as the media was very positive,” says festival spokesman Peter Klapproth. “All three songs were professional produced and went down well in the metal scene. The campaign created a reach of over 8m, which made the whole cooperation very successful for all parties involved and most importantly created the awareness for the endangered species.”

The partnership was such a success that plans are already in place to continue it next year.

Emerging artist Madalena Pequito ran a workshop of festivalgoers that positioned art as a pillar for sustainability

MEO Kalorama and Underdogs
While audiences filled their ears with music from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Arctic Monkeys, and Disclosure, new Portuguese festival MEO Kalorama also filled their eyes with art, thanks to a partnership with Lisbon-based cultural platform Underdogs.

Promoter Last Tour invited the art organisation to undertake three different initiatives that involved several people from the Underdogs’ diverse roster of Portuguese and international artists.

The first part of this collaboration was a large-scale intervention by Portuguese visual artist AkaCorleone called Temple of Sound, which saw the entire main stage decorated with work, as part of his ongoing Temple of Light project.

Elsewhere, an art gallery was built dedicated to displaying over 30 exclusive Underdogs artworks by a diversity of artists, including Felipe Pantone, Okuda San Miguel, Tamara Alves, Vhils, Wasted Rita, and many others.

And sustainability was a key theme for the third intervention – emerging artist Madalena Pequito ran a workshop of festivalgoers that positioned art as a pillar for sustainability. She invited the audience to illustrate the 17 sustainable development goals established by the United Nations.

Jazz in the Park bought six GoPro cameras, which festivalgoers borrowed for 45 minutes at a time to record their experience

Jazz in the Park and Mega Image
Most people who work on festivals never get to experience it as audiences do. But for its 10th anniversary in 2022, Romanian festival Jazz in the Park set about changing that. Thanks to a partnership with supermarket Mega Image, the festival bought six GoPro cameras and set-up a station that saw people borrow a camera for 45 minutes at a time and record their experience. The 180 people shot 96 hours of footage, which was edited into a “People’s Aftermovie,” which was released on social media.

“We were a bit nervous about people’s response[s] to being invited to film,” admits festival founder and manager Alin Vaida. “But the cameras were used almost all the time. People love the opportunity to just fool around and film their family, their preferred concerts, and so on. After the first day, people started asking about where they could get the cameras, and there was a good level of interest in the activation.”

The resulting film is unlike any traditional marketing movie, showing the event in a truly authentic manner, as even some of the ‘less desirable’ elements of the event, (such as the poor weather on the first two days) were included.

Communications manager Sergiu Topan says when the first draft arrived from the editor, he ran into Vaida’s office and shouted “It’s great!”

Vaida adds: “We are a relatively small office, and it’s usually quite noisy. But when the team got the video, there was just seven minutes of total silence. People were trying to be poker-faced about it, but I could see some of them wiping away tears. It was amazing. Watching the film was the first proof in 10 or 11 months or more that we had done something brilliant.”

He says sponsor Mega Image’s response was “really good.” So much so that there are now plans to increase the budget next year so they can buy more GoPros and have more people involved. “The word-of-mouth regarding the brand activation was excellent, too,” he adds.

EXIT’s fortress walls were painted with words of emotional and psychological support

EXIT and mental health
With global events such as the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the war in Ukraine continuing to impact people’s lives, organisers of EXIT Festival in Serbia had a special focus on mental health at the 2022 edition.

The walls of the festival site’s fortress were painted with words of emotional and psychological support, while the messages were also presented on the screens of the big stages.

Many people have encountered anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, and other related difficulties in the past two years. This is why the festival further strengthened its relationship with Novi Sad-based suicide prevention and mental health support organisation Srce Centre. The festival has worked with the centre for years, and this year the partnership was extended to bring more mental support locations to the fortress, namely at the Foodland, the OPENS State of EXIT zone, and in the EXIT camp.

And it’s not only the audience that could get help. EXIT says it is the only organisation in the music industry with two mental health experts on the team throughout the year. Over the course of the festival, other psychologists and psychotherapists were onsite to support the backstage teams and performers whenever needed.

The Power Hour sees attendees gather at Defqon.1’s main stage for 60 minutes of DJs mixing high-energy tunes

Defqon.1 and Red Bull
One of the key moments during Dutch hardstyle festival Defqon.1 is the Power Hour – which sees attendees gather at the main stage for 60 minutes of DJs mixing high-energy tunes with lightning transitions – it’s an intense moment that sees the audience go crazy.

Festival organiser Q-dance (a brand of Superstruct Entertainment-owned ID&T) partnered with Red Bull to make this year’s Power Hour truly something to remember. Opening with Red Bull athlete Bicho Carrera, it featured an aerial display that included multiple Red Bull assets such as an aerobatic flight and the helicopter from The Flying Bulls.

During the left-to-right moment, which sees the whole crowd dancing from side to side, the Red Bull helicopter joined in, hovering from left to right, too. Additional activation included special Power Hour-branded Red Bull four-packs, which were sold onsite and in the campsites and included an illuminated LED cup.

This moment was captured in video and generated significant reach and viewership over digital platforms on both Red Bull and Defqon.1 channels.

“We had almost 4m (organic) total online reach and counting,” says Q-dance brand partnerships manager Jack van Mourik. “When answering the question ‘How would you rate the Red Bull show moments during Power Hour?’ the average score was an 8.59 out of 10 in our Defqon.1 survey and was experienced as ‘very positive.’”

At Ab geht die Lutzi Festival and Rocken am Brocken, a small PENNY.Festivals Kiosk was set-up

Many festivals and PENNY
For many years, German supermarket brand PENNY has supported the German festival scene – most prominently with its sponsorship of Parookaville. But for the return after Covid, it wanted to expand its help. So multifaceted festivals platform Höme used a survey of 37,000 festivalgoers to find out how the 2,150-store company could offer the best support. What they discovered led them to develop a broad range of activations across multiple festivals under a new sub-brand, PENNY.Festivals.

Alongside its activations with Parookaville, which include two big stores, the DJ-Tower with its legendary pre-party on Thursday and up to 20,000 visitors, the brand ran smaller and different modules at 16 festivals.

Among the activations were the PENNY.Festivals Shuttle, which saw festivalgoers at Burning Beach and Happiness Festival able to leave the festival site free of charge, drive to the nearest PENNY branch, and stock up on food and essentials. At other events, such as Ab geht die Lutzi Festival and Rocken am Brocken, the smaller PENNY.Festivals Kiosk was set-up; while elsewhere the PENNY.Festivals Food For Good Foodtruck offered vegetarian and vegan food. A number of festivals had digital partnerships.

And it wasn’t just audiences that benefitted from the support. PENNY also supported November 2022 conference Festival Playground, which brought together 150 different festivals of different sizes and genres.

“With this new concept, PENNY is once again strengthening its position as a reliable partner and supporter of the German festival industry,” says Höme’s Laura Pfeiffer.

“The response from the audience was great. For example, the Kiosk was always almost completely sold out after the first day (even though we ordered more than twice as much from the first to the second time). PENNY saw recognition at a huge variety of events. Our Instagram channel reached 10,000 followers within seven months. Festival attendees, especially from smaller festivals, are always happy to find our services at these events because it’s unusual to find big brands like PENNY there.”

Pfeiffer says this new approach is part of a three-year plan with the brand. “The first year was all about testing. Next year is all about improvements and taking the learnings from the first year to another level. Last but not least, the issue of scalability and the long-term implementation should also not be ignored.”

Read the European Festival Report in full below.

 


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Touring and mental health manual launched

Full details have been revealed of psychotherapist and ex-booker Tamsin Embleton’s new book, Touring and Mental Health – The Music Industry Manual.

Edited by Embleton and published by Omnibus Press on 23 March, the book will help musicians and those working in live music to identify, process and manage the physical and psychological difficulties that can occur on the road or as a result of touring.

Topics covered include: emotional intelligence, depression, trauma, crisis management, anger and conflict, stress, addiction (substance & process; sex & porn), eating disorders, anxiety (performance; flight; general), group dynamics, mindset, exercise, physical health (hearing; vocal; sexual; general), optimal performance, dealing with the media, diversity and inclusion, romantic relationships, nutrition, sleep science, breathwork, meditation, duty of care, mental capacity, psychological safety and post-tour recovery.

Touring and Mental Health – The Music Industry Manual is written by health and performing arts medicine professionals to provide robust clinical advice, cutting edge research, practical strategies and valuable resources.

Each chapter is also underpinned with personal recollections from artists and professionals

Each chapter is also underpinned with personal recollections from artists and professionals including Nile Rodgers, Justin Hawkins, Philip Selway, Charles Thompson, Katie Melua, Kieran Hebden, Jake Berry, Tina Farris, Taylor Hanson, Trevor Williams, Lauren Mayberry, Pharoahe Monch, Jim Digby, Will Young, Angie Warner and Dale ‘Opie’ Skjerseth, among others.

Embleton is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist based in London and is the founder of the Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC): a global group of specialist clinicians who combine their experience of working in music prior to retraining as clinicians. She also consults for a variety of entertainment companies and charities.

Previously, Embleton worked as a booker for the Mean Fiddler Group, Killer B Music, Standon Calling Festival and Metropolis Studios, in addition to working in artist and tour management and as a grants advisor for the PRS Foundation.

Last year, she told IQ how the industry can better protect its artists following a spate of tour cancellations due to mental health concerns.

Click here to pre-order the book. The following discount codes are available for IQ readers: 4GXJRMTW5QGA (20%) / 7XQYQQR13AZS (25% – min 5 copies).

 


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Tamsin Embleton: ‘We need to reimagine the way we tour’

The last few months have seen an unprecedented number of artists pull the plug on tours, citing the detrimental impact of touring on mental health.

SantigoldArlo ParksShawn MendesSam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure are just a handful of artists who scrapped outings, with many referencing the gruelling reality of touring via public statements.

Tamsin Embleton, a psychotherapist and the director of Music Industry Therapists Collective (MITC), called the mental health crisis in the artist community “startlingly widespread” but says many mental health crises are preventable.

In advance of the publication of her new book, ‘Touring and Mental Health, The Music Industry Manual‘ (due 23 March 2023), Embleton shares tips for identifying and coping with the various psychological difficulties that can occur during or as a result of touring.

 


What’s leading the rise in the number of tour cancellations due to mental health?
As my fellow MITC therapist Jodi Milstein points out, burnouts, breakdowns and relapses have always happened on tour but we used to use euphemisms for it, like ‘exhaustion’. Researchers in the UK and the US have been waving the red flag about the vast number of artists who suffer psychological difficulties when working in the music business since the 1980s, but it’s taken the latest wave of research around six years ago headed up by a paper from Gross and Musgrave and Help Musicians to catalyse substantial change in the industry.

Attitudes have changed a lot since the 80s. We have a greater mental health literacy so there’s less need for euphemism. This is partly down to wider societal trends but also thanks to artists who have publicly disclosed their struggles in the press. This encourages others to reflect, identify problems and seek help. Teams need to be careful that they don’t view an artist’s mental health difficulties as their USP though. Discussing sensitive issues in the press can be distressing – if it happens too early in recovery it can set progress back. And, of course, once it’s out there, it’s out there, and might be probed for years to come. Artists need support in figuring out what they feel comfortable disclosing, what is just theirs and what should remain private.

Touring is intensively stressful from a biological, psychological and social perspective. Stress accumulates on the road – and as it does so it degrades mindset, morale, optimism, tolerance, immunity and every system in the body. It makes it hard to get restorative sleep, and so the cycle continues. Some artists are sent out on the road with schedules they aren’t physically and psychologically able to withstand. Chronic stress can create psychological and physical problems and can exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

For some touring professionals and artists who were grounded during the pandemic, their capacities have changed for better and worse. There might be more awareness of the hidden costs of touring in terms of mental, physical and relational health. The pandemic meant lost earnings and opportunities for many, and there are other issues (low streaming revenue, inflation, the weak pound etc), adding financial pressure and resulting in extra dates being added.

“Touring is a high-stress situation where environmental conditions expose you to rely on unhealthy coping strategies”

What kinds of mental health issues are touring artists prone to currently?
Depression, anxiety (general, performance, social, flight), addiction, dependency and substance misuse problems (alcohol and substance, sex, porn), stress and burnouts, mental health crises (psychosis, self-harm, etc), conflict and anger management difficulties, eating disorders… the list goes on. Touring is a high-stress situation where environmental conditions are changeable and challenging, and the touring lifestyle encourages you to rely on unhealthy coping strategies such as excessive alcohol drinking, indulgent food, smoking, illicit substances, sex etc.

What causes these issues – where are the pressure points?
Touring is stressful to mind, brain, body and relationships. Firstly it takes you away from the people and practices that usually keep you stable (maintaining relationships at home is hard when you are physically and psychologically in different places). You are constantly thrust into unfamiliar spaces like venues and hotels which can be a source of stress in itself. Then the pressure is ramped up – to meet the expectations of a wide number of people (audiences, teams, press, local crews etc). You’re always ‘on’ – expected to deliver to exceptionally high standards night after night, no matter what role you’re in – and that’s hard to maintain.

There are great soaring highs (when performances go well) swiftly followed by lows – a rollercoaster people are rarely adequately prepared for. It starts off as very exciting, but as Nile Rodgers said to me it can be gruelling. The stress levels make it hard to get good quality, restorative sleep and exhaustion add to the cumulative stress. It’s hard to switch off when you’re always gearing up for the next show, which makes it hard to be present and enjoy your surroundings. There’s very little privacy and solitude. Often people talk about loneliness on the road, which is about not feeling connected to people or understood.

“Record labels, managers, and promoters have a duty of care toward artist”

Who is responsible for an artist’s mental health?
The artist has personal responsibility towards their own health and their teams have a duty of care towards their health too. A duty of care is the legal duty of people in positions of trust, power or authority to exercise reasonable care toward those they manage or assume responsibility for. It protects the health, safety and welfare of clients and employees while they carry out their work duties. So, record labels, managers, and promoters have a duty of care toward artists (i.e. anyone who employs the artist to fulfil work, or those who are employed by the artist to make career decisions on their behalf). Artists also have a duty of care toward their touring parties and managers.

Are there more services that artists and crew can reach out to now?
Greater numbers of artists and music industry workers are recognising that they need support and reaching for help. We have many excellent services and charities in the UK serving the community – Help Musicians UK, Music Support, BAPAM, Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC), Tonic Rider, and grants available from PRS for Music fund, Royal Society of Musicians, StageHand (run by PSA) and others. Majors like Sony, Warners and Universal are offering greater levels of support. There’s a huge number of passionate, highly skilled people working to change things for the better.

“I think all artists could benefit from mentorship and coaching”

How can touring be made sustainable for artists?
That’s a big question and not one that’s easy to answer succinctly! We do need to reimagine the way that people tour. It’s not one-size fits all – capacities vary. Some people are more vulnerable than others.

Some changes can be implemented for free with a little bit of effort like providing ‘dry’ (alcohol free) dressing rooms, signposting to specialist mental health services, local 12-step meetings, green spaces, sports facilities, and ring-fencing time so that they are able to meet with therapists, coaches or sponsors. Others, such as changing the schedule and having sensible routing, have cost implications and raise questions about who pays for the shortfall. There’s a chapter in [‘Touring and Mental Health, The Music Industry Manual’] that addresses this.

What kind of support should artists be provided with?
It depends on what they’re dealing with but it’s helpful to set off feeling prepared. Adequate rehearsal time helps people feel a sense of mastery over the repertoire (which in turn can reduce performance anxiety).

Depending on the individual they might need to visit their GP or psychiatrist for a medication review ahead of the tour. I think all artists could benefit from mentorship and coaching, whether that’s ADHD coaching, vocal or performance training or career coaching. Skills building through psychoeducation, developing an understanding of mind-body connections and finding healthy ways to relax such as self-hypnosis for performance anxiety, meditation and mindfulness etc is important too, which is why we have tried to cover as many bases as possible in the book with chapters on all of these topics.

Then there are a number of psychological therapies that can help people to intercept unhelpful thought patterns, or reflect on their self-perception, formative past experiences and relational dynamics. Artists need to understand the risks to mind and body (including RSI, vocal strain issues like nodules, hearing issues etc) and have the right equipment, such as custom-fitted ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones for those who struggle with sensory overload.

“We have to be flexible and anticipate life transitions that might cause stress or mean people need to adjust their way of working”

What do artist teams need to remember about artists and their mental health?
Even with the very best of intentions, over-functioning fosters dependency and reduces resilience and tolerance (think: helicopter parents). Try not to dismiss protests or expressions of suffering (verbally or musically) – it means something, so take it seriously. Educate yourself on the warning signs of poor mental health and illness. Think: prevention rather than cure or crisis response.

The industry is highly stressful, and the artists you work with will need to find ways to vent, blow off steam and make sense of it all. Encourage healthy behaviours and model self-care. Put in boundaries around communication and when some time is blocked off in the diary, don’t tempt the artist into working during their time off. It’s important they (and you) have some semblance of a life, and relationships outside of work. Social support is a vital source of stress relief throughout life, so we should try to help people stay connected to loved ones whilst out on the road.

Pre-order ‘Touring and Mental Health, The Music Industry Manual’ here. Contact David Stock for bulk buys: [email protected]

 


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Five takeaways from the International Festival Forum

A record 800 delegates from 40 countries flocked to the eighth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF) in London, last week.

With the world’s best-known festival professionals and booking agents in attendance, IQ has compiled some key takeaways from this year’s event.

Play it safe and route your tours selectively
During the panel Festivals & Agents: Happier than ever? Chris Payne (WME, UK) voiced concerns about the viability of club shows, both for the fans and the touring industry.

“I don’t know that the next generation is going to want to go to a club in their town, be it Bedford or Coventry. They will go online. I’m worried about clubs generally because the ticket price is very expensive, and bands can’t afford to tour for anything less than £1,200–1,500 [per night] but then we’re missing a gap [in the touring ecosystem]. We can’t just skip straight to 800 capacity venues”

Payne also said that agents will need to be selective about which markets their artists play in 2023 in order to curb losses.

“You know your major markets will likely sell,” he said. “The ticket prices are going to be difficult… but it’s going to look better in your Londons or Amsterdams or Berlins than in a fifth market or a sixth market – I don’t think that’s [possible in] 2023. Forget those regional shows, if you’re not sure. There’s nothing worse than losing money on those one or two shows and then it wipes out your profit.”

Payne’s thoughts were echoed by One Finiix Live’s Jess Kinn during the New Kids on the Block panel, who said: “We need to make sure we’re not just putting an artist out there for the sake of it and really stick to the strategy of only touring at the right time, especially now,” she said. “Being able to pick and choose helps.”

Payne continued: “Next year will be about making safe bets. Personally, I won’t be trying to take a big bite out of the market next year, I just want to remain stable.”

“Even if it’s a partner I don’t like or a brand I hate, I have to start considering it”

Reconsider sponsorship offers in order to keep ticket prices down
Speaking during Festivals & Agents: Happier than ever? Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool, ES) said that festivals may have to be less fussy about their partners in order to secure much-needed cash and keep ticket prices down.

“We now need to adapt, as a festival, to things that we wouldn’t have done before in order to keep the prices affordable,” she said.

“For example, brands would come to us and say ‘Hey, I want to sponsor your festival’ and if it was not a brand that we share values with, I would have said no – it doesn’t matter the amount of money you put in. But now, even if it’s a partner I don’t like or a brand I hate, I have to start considering it. We have a business here and we need to keep it running and working.”

“People are going to have to choose whether they want to go on vacation or whether they want to do a festival as a holiday”

Be cheap or be unique to attract fans
With the projected increase in ticket prices and a decrease in fans’ disposable income, festival bosses are anticipating tough competition in 2023. During The Festival Season 2022 panel, Primary Talent’s Sally Dunstone ventured that destination festivals may come out on top if fans are forced to choose between a holiday or a festival.

“People have to be more careful with how they spend their money,” she explained. “So people are going to have to choose whether they want to go on vacation or whether they want to do a festival as a holiday.”

Detlef Kornett (DEAG, DE) added: “Recession is going to hit us and I think we will see people that left our industry return because logistics and retail and construction, all of them will suffer. Starting a new festival will be a big challenge. I like to say that next year is going to be about ‘be unique or be cheap’, but anything in the middle will be really difficult to get through.”

“There needs to be a way for us to keep people who can’t afford [festivals] the chance to see live music”

Be careful of pricing out certain groups of fans
During one of many discussions about ticket prices, Rauha Kyyrö (Fullsteam Agency, FI) said that increasing the cost for consumers could price out certain groups, making festivals less accessible for all.

“One real concern I have is that we’re making these events less and less inclusive,” she said. “We have to start thinking about ways to let people in for a very, very low price. I don’t know how we justify it, but there needs to be a way to allow people who can’t afford it the chance to see live music.

Nikolaj Thorenfeldt (Smash! Bang! Pow!, DK) added: “‘Inclusive’ is incredibly important. It’s the first word in our office when we discuss building a new event because they have to be for everybody. Everybody has to feel welcome. If you’re pricing out several customer groups, that is not the right direction.”

During The Festival Season 2022 Karolina Kozlowska (Live Nation, SE) said there had been a huge increase in VIP and platinum ticket sales, which could theoretically help subsidise cheaper tickets in the future.

“Some people are very willing to buy the more expensive ticket to get that extra comfortable experience,” said Kozlowska. “So you might not need to raise all your ticket prices – at least not by 20% – if you can make better experiences for the VIP or platinum guests which then allows the young kids an affordable ticket.”

“I think we’re going to see more and more questions about touring and how we tour”

Rethink the way you tour, to protect everyone’s mental health
With an increasing number of artists cancelling tours due to mental health concerns, James Wright (UTA, UK) was keen to remind the industry that it’s not just those on the stage that are at risk of burn out.

“It’s encouraging that [this issue] is getting the press coverage that it is because it’s been under-discussed in the public domain for a very long time. But it’s not just the artists who get the headlines; it’s the burnt-out tour manager or it’s the crew that are physically exhausted.

“We’re going to see more and more questions about touring and how we tour; length of tours, turnaround of shows more crew required and so. It’s a big topic.

“Going forward, a lot more needs to come from agents about how we route tours. There needs to be conversations with the artists and management ahead of time, to talk about how they want to tour and what their expectations are. And it’s the whole ecosystem that needs to work together.”

IFF returns to London from 26-28 September, 2023.

 


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Help Musicians creates new mental health charity

Help Musicians has created a new single-focus charity, Music Minds Matter, to support the mental health of all who work in music across the UK.

Earlier this week, BRIT Award-winning singer Arlo Parks became the latest artist to pull tour dates due to mental health concerns, following similar cancellations from Shawn MendesSam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure.

Music Minds Matter’s first board of trustees will provide insight and focus to drive awareness and help improve access to necessary mental health support. Association For Electronic Music (AFEM) CEO Silvia Montello has been announced as the new charity’s first chair.

“Having worked in music my entire career, I have sadly seen and experienced first-hand the devastating impact on the mental health of too many great colleagues, friends and artists,” says Montello. “Music brings such joy to so many people; we need to ensure that no-one involved in creating and sharing it across the music-loving community is left to suffer the effects of stressful, unhealthy and often precarious livelihoods, and is able to share in that joy and to thrive in their own daily endeavours.”

The new board will be made up of: Gareth Mellor (FUGA); Juliette Edwards (PPL); Maria Wray (UTA); Melanie Johnson (Utopia Music); Paul Firth (Amazon Music) and Reni Adadevoh (Warner Music International). Jim Benner, one of Help Musicians existing trustees will also serve on the board.

“We have seen the need for mental health support continue to grow year-on-year”

Music Minds Matter was established in 2017 as a 24/7 mental health support line for all who work in music across the UK, and has since evolved to encompass peer support groups, self-care sessions and a music-focused mental health guidance website, Music Minds Matter Explore.

“Since Music Minds Matter launched in 2017, we have seen the need for mental health support continue to grow year-on-year,” says Help Musicians CEO James Ainscough. “Musicians and those who work in music have been through an incredibly difficult time during the pandemic. And, sadly, coming out the other side is proving just as challenging, if not more. So the time is right to set up Music Minds Matter as a single-focus charity.

“With the full backing of the Help Musicians team and resources, the Music Minds Matter board will have the freedom to drive forward our work on mental health, so we can reach more of those who need our support, and build vital partnership right across the music industry. Silvia and the new board of trustees bring the wealth of knowledge, understanding and passion needed to guide Music Minds Matter in this new and exciting phase and I look forward to working with them.”

Music Minds Matter will bring together significant influencers within the music industry at Abbey Road Studio 2 on 10 October for World Mental Health Day to lead a discussion about best practice in mental health support and how to drive positive change.

 


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Arlo Parks latest act to cancel shows over mental health

Arlo Parks is the latest artist to call off tour dates due to mental health concerns, following similar cancellations from Shawn Mendes, Sam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure.

“I find myself now in a very dark place, exhausted and dangerously low,” reads a statement posted on Parks’ social media accounts.

The British singer-songwriter began the North American leg of her ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ tour at the start of this month, but said that her mental health has “deteriorated to a debilitating place” and left her “burnt out”.

Parks has subsequently cancelled eight dates scheduled from 14 to 24 September but has promised to resume the tour next week starting with her 26 September date at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon.

“I pushed myself unhealthily, further and harder than I should’ve”

From there, the singer is slated to deliver six more shows and conclude the tour on 12 October. Read Parks’ full statement below.

“I’ve been on the road on and off for the last 18 months, filling every spare second in between and working myself to the bone. It was exciting and I was eager to grind and show everyone what I was capable of, how grateful I was to be where I am today. The people around me started to get worried but I was anxious to deliver and afraid to disappoint my fans and myself.”

“I pushed myself unhealthily, further and harder than I should’ve. I find myself now in a very dark place, exhausted and dangerously low – it’s painful to admit that my mental health has deteriorated to a debilitating place, that I’m not okay, that I’m a human being with limits.

“With that in mind I’m having to cancel the shows from Boston to Salt Lake City and recommence the tour in Portland. I don’t take decisions like this lightly but I am broken and I really need to step out, go home and take care of myself. I will do everything I can to make this up to you – for now you can get refunds at your point of purchase.

I’m forever thankful to everyone who continues to show up for me, what a dream to have fans like you guys – I’ll be back. Love AP.”

 


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Sam Fender cancels US dates, citing mental health

British singer-songwriter Sam Fender has cancelled his upcoming US tour dates, citing mental health concerns.

The 28-year-old from Newcastle announced that he is “taking some time off the road” to look after his mental health, after admitting that he was “burnt out” from touring.

The news comes soon after Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes cancelled the remaining dates on Wonder: The World Tour to focus on his wellbeing.

Fender’s scrapped US dates include three remaining headline shows in the US, support slots with Florence and the Machine, and a performance at Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas.

“It seems completely hypocritical of me to advocate discussion on mental health and write songs about it if I don’t take the time to look after my own mental health,” reads a statement on Fender’s social media channels.

“It’s impossible to do this work on myself while on the road”

“I’ve neglected myself for over a year now and haven’t dealt with things that have deeply affected me. It’s impossible to do this work on myself while on the road, and it’s exhausting feigning happiness and wellness for the sake of business. My friends and colleagues have been worried about me for a while and it’s not going to get better unless I take the time to do so.”

Apologising to fans, Fender has also cancelled a number of rescheduled UK record store dates. However, the singer-songwriter said that he is “super excited” for his Australia dates in November and “everything to come in 2023″.

Earlier this month, Fender announced a 2023 headline show at St James’ Park in his hometown of Newcastle. He will become the first Geordie to top the bill at Newcastle United Football Club’s ground.

Fender’s agent Paul Wilson spoke to IQ earlier this year about the artist’s long-term ambition to perform at St. James’ Park, among other things.

 


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Intimate Ed Sheeran show to launch charity series

Ed Sheeran is to kick off the newly created Wellstock x For One Night Only charity event series with a one-off show at London’s 900-cap Union Chapel.

Sheeran will perform an acoustic set at the venue on Tuesday 11 October, promoted by Kilimanjaro Live.

The event is being held in support of confidential mental health text support service Shout, which is powered by Mental Health Innovations – a digital mental health charity founded with the support of The Royal Foundation of The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge.

No tickets will be on sale for the Sheeran concert or other future For One Night Only events, with the fundraising initiative designed to create “extraordinary experiences that money cannot buy”. A total of 300 pairs of tickets will be available via charity prize draw.

Entrants are asked to make a voluntary donation of £10 to the For One Night Only Fund that will be donated to Shout.  All those who donate but are unsuccessful in securing a ticket will receive an exclusive video from the night.

“The conversation around mental health is such an important one”

“I am excited to announce that I have teamed up with For One Night Only for this very special one-off concert,” says Sheeran. “It’s the first in a series of events they’ll be creating and will be a brilliant night in an intimate and special venue.

“The conversation around mental health is such an important one. We all have mental health, we all need to talk about it and there is also a need to have places to go when we are struggling. You have the chance of joining me in London by entering the charity prize draw at foronenightonly.org and you can support Shout by making a £10 donation.”

For One Night Only has been created by Emmy-award winning content creator Harder Than You Think (HTYT). The original concept for the event has been developed by Kevin Cahill, Sport Relief founder and honorary life president of Comic Relief, and Kim Chappell from Chappell Productions.

“The aims are to use events to bring mental health awareness to the fore whilst also looking at fundraising”

The first For One Night Only event has been developed in collaboration with Wellstock, an initiative created by singer Will Young which is aiming to raise awareness and funds for a variety of mental health charities.

“Wellstock has been an idea of mine for a long time,” says Young. “The aims are to use events to bring mental health awareness to the fore whilst also looking at fundraising and with an overview of acceptance, validation and blowing away the shame that can attach itself to feeling anything other than happiness.

“We are thrilled to align with the charity Shout and For One Night Only to create our first unique event with Ed Sheeran with more to come next year. Ed’s event is going to be super special with more news to come very soon.”

 


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Shawn Mendes cancels remainder of Wonder world tour

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes has cancelled the remaining dates on Wonder: The World Tour to focus on his wellbeing.

The tour was slated to visit a total 77 arenas, with Dermont Kennedy and Tate McRae supporting the North American dates and King Princess joining Mendes in Europe.

The Canadian pop star had so far played seven of the 87 shows he had scheduled across the US and Europe.

In a statement posted on his social media channels, 23-year-old Mendes said: “I started this tour excited to finally get back to playing live after a long break due to the pandemic, but the reality is I was not at all ready for how difficult touring would be after this time away.

“After speaking with my team and working with an incredible group of health professionals, it has become more clear that I need to take the time I’ve never taken personally, to ground myself and come back stronger.

“I need to take the time I’ve never taken personally, to ground myself and come back stronger”

“It breaks my heart to tell you this but I promise I will be back as soon as I’ve taken the right time to heal.”

He added that he hoped to reschedule the shows in the future and thanked fans for their support, telling them that cancelling the shows did not mean he would stop making music.

The announcement comes after the singer announced earlier this month he was cancelling some dates of the tour in order to “heal and take care of myself and my mental health”.

Mendes explained at the time that after “a few years off the road” due to the Covid pandemic, he felt “ready to dive back in”, but said his decision had ultimately proved to be “premature”.

The Canadian pop star is represented by Nick Matthews at Paradigm in Europe and Matt Galle at CAA for the rest of the world.

 


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Oz study findings ‘wake up call’ for live business

The Australian live business has been warned the findings of a workforce survey should serve as a wake-up call to the state of mental health in the sector.

Participants in the first Mental Health and Wellbeing in Music and Live Performing Arts study included musicians, songwriters, production crew, managers and producers, with 66% of those surveyed reporting high-to-very high levels of psychological distress – four times greater than the general population.

Conducted this past March and April by the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, in conjunction with music charity Support Act, the study has identified the need for further improvements in the creative industries.

“Participants in this research identified a need for further financial and mental health support for people working in music”

“Participants in this research identified a need for further financial and mental health support for people working in music and live performing arts, as well as a need for broader change within the sector and government support to enable this,” says research fellow at the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, Dr Aurora Elmes.

“People want to see action towards improved working conditions and work environments that are safe for everyone’s mental and physical health.”

Covid-19 was a common factor in the results, with more than 47% of respondents losing their jobs as a result and almost two-thirds saying the pandemic had impacted their mental health. In addition, 61% said it had affected their feeling of being part of an industry community, and 56% noted increased feelings of loneliness or social isolation.

Dr Elmes adds that the research indicates that people in music and live performing arts continue to face job insecurity and work environments that can be unsafe for physical or mental health.

“It reveals the ongoing effects of added stressors arising from the Covid-19 pandemic”

“On top of existing issues with working conditions, it reveals the ongoing effects of added stressors arising from the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s work, income, social connectedness, and mental health,” she says.

Additional findings from the survey of more than 1,300 industry professionals included that 35% reported a current mental health condition, 29% reported having an anxiety condition, and 27% reported having depression – all well above the national average.

More than a third reported incomes from their work in music/live performing arts as less than AUS$30,000 per annum, and only 15% said they always felt safe at work.

Read the full report here.

 


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