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Eric van Eerdenburg reveals Lowlands exit strategy

Lowlands director Eric van Eerdenburg has revealed his intention to step down from the Dutch festival next year.

Van Eerdenburg has been involved with the long-running event, which is promoted by Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts, since the turn of the century. But Vpro reports that he has now set the wheels in motion for his “process to the back door”.

“I’m not quitting yet, but I’ve started quitting, so to speak,” Van Eerdenburg told the De Machine podcast. “I will definitely do this Lowlands again and next year too. And someone will walk with me to take over afterwards.

“Lowlands is big, Lowlands is a lot. There is a lot of networking involved, which you don’t write down on a note and say, ‘Good luck with it.’ So I chose to do it that way.”

He continued: “Lowlands is a young festival. It’s about young culture, young new bands, new influences, new things. There you can think for a long time that you still feel it all the way down to your toes, but at a certain point that is no longer the case.”

“I’m not ready to wave goodbye to everyone yet”

Van Eerdenburg plans to hand over the reins to Mojo’s festival project manager Camiel le Rutte, who works across events such as Rolling Loud, Stadspark Live and Warehouse Project Rotterdam, and previously programmed Amsterdam’s Melkweg venue.

“He has also done things as a freelancer at Lowlands in the past,” said Van Eerdenburg. “I think he is the right man to take over this. He is now 38, 39, a good age to start. The same age as when I started.”

He added: “I’m not ready to wave goodbye to everyone yet.”

The 2024 edition of A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise will be held in Biddinghuizen between 16-18 August. Acts at the 60,000-cap festival will include Fred Again.., Queens of the Stone Age, Skrillex, Peggy Gou, Froukje, The Smile, Nas, Denzel Curry, Jorja Smith, Sugababes, Big Thief and Wargasm. Tickets, priced €325, sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale in February.

Van Eerdenburg joined the festival team in 2000 as right-hand man to MD John Mulder, becoming director the following year. Mulder himself stepped down from Mojo at the start of 2024 to “give the young guard space”. The new leadership team consists of Ruben Brouwer, with whom Mulder has co-led Mojo since 2017, as well as Ronny Hooch Antink and Kim Bloem.

 


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ESNS 2024: Touring heads unpick ‘new normal’

Leading European live executives have advised that ticket pricing is “more important than ever” as the business navigates its current challenges.

The subject was pored over during today’s Touring In ’24: Are There Bumps In The Road? session at the Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) conference in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Moderated by IQ MD Greg Parmley, the panel featured agents Beckie Sugden of CAA and UTA’s Carlos Abreu, as well as Mojo Concerts head promoter Kim Bloem and FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt.

Netherlands-based Bloem reported the market appeared in rude health at all levels from her viewpoint.

“Tickets are flying out,” said Bloem. “It’s not just the blockbuster shows, it’s the club shows too. We’re not struggling.”

Thanscheidt, who is based out of Germany and is also FKP’s head of festival booking, painted an overall positive if more mixed picture.

“We have so many artists touring. But there are also shows that are not doing so well. It depends on demographics, genre and level of act”

“As a company, we don’t have a problem,” he said. “We have so many artists touring. But there are also shows that are not doing so well. It depends on demographics, genre and level of act.”

Sugden, whose roster includes artists such as Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, GloRilla, Noname, Chronixx, implied it was a constant work in progress.

“It’s a supply and demand market,” she said. “As agents, we have to make sure artists aren’t touring too much. And they’re going to other regions. It’s a constantly changing and dynamic market.”

Thanscheidt argued that show calculations were “more challenging and complicated than before”, triggering a debate around the impact of rising costs on ticket prices.

“Getting ticket prices right is more important than ever,” stressed Abreu, who works with the likes of Rosalía, Bad Bunny, Anitta, Morad, Tokischa and Ayra Starr. “There are also creative ways to structure deals with artists who are looking to do meet and greets or VIP packages, etc. You have to understand the demographic you’re selling to.”

Sugden said it was necessary to analyse the market “with forensic detail and check that your ticket prices are competitive”.

“It’s the perfect storm. Everyone’s prices are increasing”

“VIP doesn’t work in every market, so you have to know what works for each market,” she added. “It’s the perfect storm. Everyone’s prices are increasing. But actually with K-pop fans, they’re willing to stick their hands in their pockets. In times of crisis, people want to be entertained.”

Bloem felt the business has been “timid” regarding raising ticket prices in the past and felt the present level of demand indicated there was room for an increase.

“Given how fast tickets are selling, I think we can increase,” she said. “We added €30 to festival tickets this year, but festival tickets can’t be pushed too quickly.”

“This is a real problem,” advised Thanscheidt. “We had sold out festivals but the margins were complete shit. It’s getting better now but you still see festivals struggling.

“Ticket prices are at the limit. Some festivals overpriced and had only 70/80% of their usual audience, which German promoters know is terrible.”

The conversation then turned to dynamic pricing, with Abreu noting it had become “the norm” in the US. “It’s the way the world is going.” he added.

“We have to think differently about how we approach first steps for artists”

Thanscheidt appeared open-minded about the prospect, but pointed out that the European industry was still some way behind its US counterpart in terms of adoption. “I think it will take time but all sauces that can add to the pot,” he said.

In closing, the panellists shared their thoughts on keeping tickets affordable for fans. Thanscheidt brought up the concept of ‘social tickets’, where a small portion of tickets are available to unwaged citizens for a lower price.

“I had a show recently where the artist did a collection after the concert and the artist ended up tripling the guarantee,” responded Sugden. “We’re getting more creative. We’ve got to keep creative with the club scene. We have to think differently about how we approach first steps for artists.”

Abreu added that some artists could afford to do underplays to “give back” to their fans, but accepted it wasn’t always possible.

“We need to think in career terms for artists,” he concluded. “Not just ‘what do we want to make on this next tour’. It’s about where are we going to be in five years.”

ESNS, which recently appointed Anna van Nunen as its new general manager, wraps up its 2024 edition tomorrow. The event also featured the 2023 European Festival Awards. Check out the winners here.

 


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Down The Rabbit Hole sells out in under 45 mins

Dutch festival Down The Rabbit Hole sold out in less than 45 minutes of going on sale last Saturday (2 December).

All 45,000 tickets to the three-day event at De Groene Heuvels near Ewijk have been purchased, despite a price increase of €25 to €280 since last year.

More than half of the tickets were sold during the pre-sale and the remaining half were swept up during the general sale on Saturday 2 December at 11 am.

“People were ready at eleven o’clock. The tickets were gone almost instantly,” a spokesperson for Down The Rabbit Hole told AD. “It just takes a while before the system actually indicates this. First, all sales processes must be completely completed.”

“The tickets were gone almost instantly”

The sell-out marks a new record for the Mojo Concerts-promoted event, which took three days to run out of tickets last year.

Next year’s festival will see the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Michael Kiwanuka, The National, Jungle, Raye, Jessie Ware and Khruangbin perform at the 5–7 July festival.

Live Nation-backed Mojo also promotes Lowlands, North Sea Jazz and Pinkpop – which today announced its 2024 lineup, with Ed Sheeran, Måneskin and Calvin Harris topping the bill.

Nothing But Thieves, Sam Smith, Avril Lavigne, Hozier, Limp Bizkit and Greta Van Fleet are also set to perform at Pinkpop in Megaland Landgraaf between 21–23 June 2024.

Lowlands and North Sea Jazz are yet to announce acts for their 2024 instalments.

 


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ESNS announces keynote speakers for 2024

ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) has announced the first keynote and featured speakers for next year’s edition, taking place between 17–20 January 2024 in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Amy Thomson (formerly Hipgnosis, ATM Artists), John Mulder (MOJO Concerts/Live Nation) and Mark Mulligan (MIDiA Research) are among the keynotes for the European showcase festival and conference.

Mulder will appear at ESNS 2024 mere weeks after leaving his post as CEO of Mojo Concerts, the Dutch Live Nation subsidiary, on 1 January.

During the keynote interview, the Dutch exec will reflect on his versatile career which includes roles as tour manager of Metallica and co-initiator of AFAS Live and the Ziggo Dome.

Elsewhere, Thomson, former chief catalogue officer at Hipgnosis Songs Fund and CEO and founder of ATM Artists, will address the music industry’s challenges regarding finding, tracking, and tracing metadata across different platforms.

Thomson has executed record releases, marketing campaigns, touring, legal rights and copyright for clients including Kanye West, DJ Snake, Swedish House Mafia, Gorillaz, and Seal. Her passion for catalogue management led her to develop an online application that helps artists manage their metadata.

Mulder will reflect on his versatile career which includes roles as tour manager of Metallica and co-initiator of AFAS Live and the Ziggo Dome

The third keynote announced today is Mark Mulligan, managing director of MIDiA Research. As a long-term media and technology analyst, he is considered a leading thinker on the music industry’s digital transition.

At ESNS 2024, Mulligan will explore the rise of the next music business, explaining that we’re already entering the post-streaming era. He will present a vision for what this new world will look like and who will be the key players.

Joining the Music Industry Therapists Collective, Justin Lockey of English rock band Editors will share his insights on mental health on the road, shining a light on touring with Editors. Additionally, George Musgrave (Goldsmiths, University of London) will join two sessions about mental health.

European Parliament MEP Ibán García Del Blanco joins a panel moderated by Helienne Lindvall (ECSA) to discuss the European Parliament draft report on Cultural diversity and the conditions for authors in the European music streaming market.

ESNS Tech is a series of panel discussions curated by innovation specialist and community builder Turo Pekari (Music Finland). Experts in the intersection of music and technology will address topics such as tomorrow’s business model. ESNS Tech will tune into challenges, opportunities and the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence within the music industry.

Discover the full conference programme here. More panels and speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

 


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Dutch courage: Netherlands market report

As a barometer for the health of the international live music industry, the Netherlands is a pretty good bet. The nation’s promoters have bounced back post-Covid, albeit with a series of challenges that their peers internationally will recognise. But Adam Woods learns that a clampdown on tourism in Amsterdam might provide the rest of the nation with opportunities…

Industrious, outward-looking, and well-located in the heart of Europe, The Netherlands isn’t immune to bad times – but when there are good times to be had, you can generally assume the Dutch are getting their share of them.

In August, the Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals’ (VNPF) Poppodia and Festivals in Figures 2022 report, showed that 48 key music venues and 55 festivals drew 7.6m visits in 2022, compared to 883,000 in 2021 and 8.6m in the last pre-Covid year of 2019.

And while rising costs and an accompanying spike in ticket prices offer their own challenges, the anecdotal health of the business in 2023 – proclaimed by just about everyone in the industry – indicates that we can probably declare The Netherlands’ comeback to be complete.

Mojo Concerts, the local Live Nation arm and by some distance the biggest promoter in The Netherlands over 55 years, has had another banner year, to add to a barnstorming 2022.

“2023 again is a record year, specifically for stadium shows”

“This whole year has been an amazing year for us again,” says Mojo head promoter Kim Bloem. “Last year was already crazy because in nine months, we had more visitors than we normally had in a year. And 2023 again is a record year, specifically for stadium shows.”

Mojo chalked up 17 of them in 2023, most in Amsterdam’s 55,855-cap Johan Cruijff ArenA (AKA Amsterdam ArenA) – four Coldplays, three Bruce Springsteens, three Harry Styles, two apiece for The Weeknd, Metallica, and Beyoncé, and one for Guns N’ Roses.

“We never have that many stadium shows in one year,” says Bloem, “but for obvious reasons, 2022 was not a good year for those acts – it’s such a huge investment to tour on that level, and with all the uncertainties and travel restrictions still in place, it just didn’t make sense. It was a challenge to get everything lined up, and it’s amazing that it all fitted in so well.”

The Netherlands has form for fitting things in. With a population of around 17.5m in just 41,526 sq km, it is more densely populated than any other substantial country in Europe, and its level of consumer demand puts it firmly on the agenda of any tour of any significance.

Its festivals – Lowlands, Mysteryland, Pinkpop, Amsterdam Dance Event, Awakenings, Best Kept Secret, North Sea Jazz, and the rest – have local appeal and major international pull; and secondary markets such as Rotterdam (while very much ancillary to Amsterdam), have a growing appeal of their own. So, what’s the secret of Dutch success? Joost Aanen, co-founder and CEO of Amsterdam-and Eindhoven-based ticketing platform Eventix, thinks he knows.

“Dutch culture and government governance was always quite lenient here, so festivals developed very early on, and that side of the industry is very experienced”

“What I think is unique about The Netherlands and Dutch culture is that because it’s such a small country, without a lot of natural resources, the culture is very much focused around trading with neighbours,” he says. “It’s always been a country of merchants, with a global orientation.

“So, it’s a good foundation to build an entertainment industry. If you look at the Dutch DJs, they also have this global focus. And meanwhile, Dutch culture and government governance was always quite lenient here, so festivals developed very early on, and that side of the industry is very experienced.”

That doesn’t entirely account for the bulletproof demand, however. Friendly Fire promoter Lauri van Ommen believes the market in 2023 might have already outstripped its pre-Covid form.

“I think it may be even stronger than it was,” she says. “A lot of people realised during Covid that they want to go out, they want to enjoy a concert, that it’s their time to relax. And I think people also want to travel again, and The Netherlands is convenient for the UK, for Belgium, for France. It’s so easy to get to.”

But while promoters, venues, and the vast majority of festivals report good times, like most European markets, The Netherlands has certain structural issues to contend with.

“More and more venues have stopped booking support acts because it’s too expensive to have one due to longer working hours, higher wages, and more catering costs”

Last year’s staff drain has not entirely been reversed, with reports of elevated rates for experienced technical professionals. Supplier costs have bitten hardest among areas of the market that can least afford it, including free festivals, and the increasing conservatism of ticket-buyers, while good news for well-known names, has left smaller venues and newer artists struggling for their share of attention.

“At the moment, I think the excitement is mainly at the financial departments of the promoters who promote the big shows and festivals,” says Jacco van Lanen of independent Double Vee Concerts. “Doesn’t matter what the prices are, the people buy tickets.

“On the smaller level, I see more challenges than excitement. More and more venues have stopped booking support acts because it’s too expensive to have one due to longer working hours, higher wages, and more catering costs. The most exciting thing is that there are, luckily, still many very talented young people who are incredibly creative in getting attention and trying to build their way up.”

Promoters
While Mojo remains dominant, the well-told story of the past dozen years or so among the promoters of The Netherlands has been the rise to prominence of a healthy range of big-hitting competitors. These include FKP Scorpio’s Friendly Fire, the independent Greenhouse Talent, and the Dutch-talent-focused Agents After All, which last December became the latest acquisition of the increasingly sizeable All Things Live group. The clear impression is of a market that can accommodate a bit of healthy rivalry.

“It is a competitive market, but it is a good one. It just feels stable,” says Greenhouse Talent head promoter Wouter de Wilde, who believes international agents appreciate a range of choice.

“This year we have had Måneskin and George Ezra, Snoop Dogg, Cigarettes After Sex, Hans Zimmer”

“We see a lot of dropouts coming to us,” he says. “We can offer something different to Live Nation, and we have proven ourselves as a promoter for really big shows.”

This year, Greenhouse promoted Rammstein across two nights at Groningen’s Stadspark in July, selling 110,000 tickets. The same month, the promoter put three Taylor Swift shows on sale for summer next year at Johan Cruijff Arena, 150,000 tickets in total, and promptly sold the lot.

“That’s tremendous business to have as an independent promoter,” says De Wilde, who notes that such demand comes even in the face of rising ticket prices.

Of the other key promoters in The Netherlands, Friendly Fire was founded in 2009 and became part of FKP Scorpio three years later. Like its Dutch competitors, it operates across the board, from clubs to stadiums.

“This year we have had Måneskin and George Ezra, Snoop Dogg, Cigarettes After Sex, Hans Zimmer,” says Van Ommen. “It’s a great year for promoted shows, and we also had a great year for our festival, Best Kept Secret.”

In August, All Things Live also took a majority stake in festival promoter Loveland Events

Dance giant ID&T is another huge presence in the Netherlands and further afield. It was bought by Superstruct Entertainment from owners Axar Capital for an undisclosed sum in September 2021. The promoter has 70 events, including Amsterdam Open Air, Mysteryland, Thunderdome, Awakenings, Defqon.1, Milkshake, and Sensation, as well as two talent agencies and a creative workshop.

Booking agent, management stable, and promoter Agents After All, meanwhile, has operated since 2004, and its 30-strong team is involved in 1,500 concerts annually, to add to festivals such as Royal Park Live, HIER Festival, and Concert at SEA.

In August, All Things Live also took a majority stake in festival promoter Loveland Events, whose events include Loveland Festival, 909 Festival, Music On Festival, and Loveland Van Orange Festival, as well as several ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) events.

Double Vee, founded by Dutch live veteran Willem Venema, is another busy indie, promoting, booking, and co-promoting around 400 to 500 shows a year, varying in capacity from 150-cap rooms to arena shows. Its acts include new international artists like Alix Page, Daisy The Great, Deijuvhs, and L.A. Edwards, and Dutch artists such as Lov3less, Leah Rye, Annelie, and Lotte Walda.

So, where next? Does the post-Covid boom carry on into 2024, or are we in for a slow-down?

“I think if you compare it to 2022 and this year, then of course the big difference you’ll see is the number of stadium shows”

“I don’t know if it’s going to be a quieter year,” says Bloem. “I think if you compare it to 2022 and this year, then of course the big difference you’ll see is the number of stadium shows. My feeling is that it’s going to go back to ‘normal’ again, where you have many big acts touring one year, and then the next you have a bit less but more new talent coming up.

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean a decrease in the number of shows. Since I have been working in the music business, every year there has been an increase, and artists grow quicker into theatres and arenas.”

Festivals
Where festivals are concerned, The Netherlands has some of Europe’s crown jewels. The world’s longest-running electronic music festival, ID&T’s Mysteryland, chalked up its 30th anniversary in August and celebrated by announcing that 80% of the festival’s power consumption would come from green grid power, while the remaining 20% would be largely made up of flexible, sustainably generated energy.

Live Nation’s Pinkpop is the longest-running open-air festival in the world, and this year returned with P!nk, Robbie Williams, and Red Hot Chili Peppers at the top of the bill, drawing 62,500 a day to Megaland in Landgraaf across three days in June.

As well as Pinkpop, Mojo has Lowlands, North Sea Jazz, and Down the Rabbit Hole, and its experience offers an indication of the market’s elastic demand in a tough consumer environment.

“They are not buying a new house or car, they are not making those big investments, but they are spending their money on experiences and memories”

“Costs are hitting everyone, and that has resulted in increased ticket prices this year,” says Bloem. “At the same time, Lowlands and Down the Rabbit Hole sold out in a heartbeat. So, we see and feel that people are spending money on entertainment, restaurants, and going out. They are not buying a new house or car, they are not making those big investments, but they are spending their money on experiences and memories.”

Most Dutch promoters have a stake in the festival business, with the odd exception. “We deliberately don’t organise our own festival,” says Van Lanen at Double Vee. “Mainly because we don’t want to compete in that way with the multinationals. On the other hand, try to find an empty weekend in The Netherlands…”

Greenhouse, whose Ghent-based Belgian arm this year recovered the Ghent Jazz Festival from bankruptcy, organises a yearly concert series called Zuiderpark Live, at The Hague’s open-air Zuiderparktheater.

Friendly Fire’s portfolio includes Indian Summer and Best Kept Secret, which received an overhaul this year. “For Best Kept Secret, we changed the whole identity, gave it a new look and feel, new website, new logo, and changed the set-up of the festival field,” says Van Ommen. “We also have the Indian Summer festival, which is mainly domestic artists, and we have Tuckerville, Ilse DeLange’s festival, and it’s the last edition this year.”

Tuckerville’s retirement after six editions, attributed to rising costs and the difficulty of remaining accessible to a large audience, nods to challenging times in the broader festival market, and it is not the only one.

“More and more free festivals are disappearing”

Dutch hip-hop festival Oh My! announced in July that it would no longer take place this year, citing the cost-of-living crisis, increased production costs, and last-minute safety and crowd regulations. The ALDA-promoted festival, touted as the biggest urban festival in Europe, was due to take place on 15 July at Almere Beach, in the province of Flevoland, and would have
been the sixth annual instalment. Likewise, DUCOS Productions’ free festival Parkpop in The Hague, which drew 250,000 visitors annually and ran for 40 years, drew a hard line in 2023 in response to the rising costs of production and safety requirements.

“More and more free festivals are disappearing,” says Hilde Spille of Nijmegen-based independent booking agency Paperclip. “They either are not there anymore, like Parkpop, one of the biggest European one-day free festivals, or they are turning into paid festivals.”

Production and talent are not the only inflationary factors. Insurance, for instance, must be increasingly comprehensive in the light of recent extreme weather events and warnings.

But with extreme weather taking its toll on many European summer events this season, some local operators report that policies covering acts of God can now be four times what they previously were.

Accordingly, a number of Dutch festivals were disrupted by the threat of extreme weather in July. Awakenings, a techno festival in Hilvarenbeek, Brabant, promoted by ID&T and attracting more than 100,000 visitors across three days, called off its third and final day in anticipation of severe thunderstorms that didn’t fully materialise.

“When the Ziggo Dome was built, it was envisioned for the big touring artists from the US, maybe the UK. The thinking was that Dutch artists can’t fill this place – and that is not the case”

On the same weekend of 8 and 9 July, Weert-based annual rock festival Bospop, which welcomes around 50,000 people each year, and electronic music festival Wildeburg, a three-day event that takes place in Kraggenburg, Flevoland, were also cut short due to the predicted weather conditions.

Venues
Amsterdam’s 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome is the largest concert hall in the Netherlands. Last year, it welcomed over 140 events in nine months, and its busy calendar in 2023 is straightforward evidence of the health of the market at its top end, with Fred Again, Diana Ross, Lizzo, Madonna, Dua Lipa, Depeche Mode, and the Arctic Monkeys among those passing through.

“It is the year after the busiest year ever in our history,” Ziggo Dome director of commercial affairs Danny Damman told IQ’s Global Arena Guide 2023. “In 2022, we had over 140 events in nine months – it was a hefty challenge – and we are well on target this year despite having a particularly high number of cancellations, such as Justin Bieber and Celine Dion.”

Inaugurated in 2012, the venue was built with international touring artists in mind, but The Netherlands’ homegrown talent has increasingly risen to meet the challenge.

“When the Ziggo Dome was built, it was envisioned for the big touring artists from the US, maybe the UK,” says Henk Schuit, managing director of Eventim Netherlands. “The thinking was that Dutch artists can’t fill this place – and that is not the case. More and more Dutch artists are filling the Ziggo Dome – both older reunited bands like Acda en De Munnik, who filled it six times, and newer guys like Anton, who’s just turned 21 and played two shows [in December], which is quite healthy, I think.”

“The new generation of creators want to be the boss of their own community, their own ticket sales and so on”

Other developments at the Ziggo Dome also appear to have broader significance. In 2022, the venue added blockchain ticketing specialist GUTS Tickets to its preferred ticketing partners. In addition to preventing unwanted reselling and ticket fraud, blockchain tickets allow for every attendee to claim their ticket as an NFT collectible – while also offering promoters and artists access to the data generated by their audience.

“The Ziggo Dome offers the possibility to people who rent out the arena to have their own ticketing system,” says GUTS Tickets CEO Maarten Bloemers. “And what we see is that the younger artists, the independent artists, tend to choose us. The new generation of creators want to be the boss of their own community, their own ticket sales and so on. I think bi-weekly or weekly we do a show in the Ziggo Dome, and they’re a dream partner of ours, obviously.”

The Netherlands’ other key arenas are the 16,426-cap Rotterdam Ahoy, now 52 years old, and Amsterdam’s AFAS Live – once the Heineken Music Hall – whose Black Box main room can contain up to 6,000. The Ahoy has undergone a total renovation in recent years, as well as introducing a new mid-size arena, the 7,842-cap RTM Stage, at the end of 2020.

“The new stage is also designed to transform into the biggest auditorium in The Netherlands, with a capacity of 2,816 and an XL-seated variant of 4,174 seats,” says Ahoy head of entertainment and sports Arnaud Hordijk.

Events at the Ahoy complex this year include Mojo’s North Sea Jazz festival and Rolling Loud Rotterdam, as well as Rotterdam Reggae and hard techno fest Rotterdam Rave. “We’ve welcomed almost 200,000 visitors for these festivals this summer, which include three new ones compared to last year,” says Hordijk. The Ahoy is also busy with a range of sustainability initiatives, including 8,700 sq m of solar panels and 1,300 sq m of sedum roofs and, most recently, a plan for an urban water buffer, which allows rainwater to be collected, retained, filtered, stored, and reused for purposes such as window and floor cleaning.

“Of course, when Stromae cancels shows or Adele farts, it’s in the media. But it’s very, very hard to get any attention for new developing artists at the moment”

In a time of big-ticket shows, the fortunes of such venues seem assured. Of greater concern, says Schuit, are those of the smaller players. “The top of the market is getting the visitors, but underneath it’s a little bit of a problem,” says Schuit. “When you have 800,000 visitors to the Amsterdam ArenA, that maybe causes a rupture somewhere else in the channel, maybe lower down the line. I think young musicians starting out are struggling a little bit and have a tougher environment to break through.”

At Double Vee, Van Lanen agrees. “It feels like extremes to both sides. It looks like the major acts can’t deliver enough tickets for everybody who wants to see the show. And the prices are extremely high, so they take most of the money out of the market. As a result, the smaller and newer acts suffer.

“On the other hand, for new acts, it feels like the media also sort of disappeared after Covid. Of course, when Stromae cancels shows or Adele farts, it’s in the media. But it’s very, very hard to get any attention for new developing artists at the moment. I hope this will change soon, otherwise we won’t have acts to fill the medium-sized rooms in a year or five.”

The strength of Mojo contributes to making Ticketmaster the comfortable market leader in The Netherlands, leaving its rivals to find ingenious ways to carve out market share. Eventim recently launched an in-house agency to provide marketing and promotional support to promoters, particularly international ones, seeking to stage one or two shows in The Netherlands.

“If you are touring with a certain production setup and you can take care of that, then we are a perfect fit,” says Schuit. “We know the market; we have the reach. So I think, especially for foreign visitors to The Netherlands, we are a perfect fit to cater to their needs.”

As Schuit points out, The Netherlands is a busy, highly competitive market. But it is also one that carved itself out with hard work and smart thinking – and, as recent years have shown, one that rewards independent spirit.

 


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Robert van Ommen: 1955-2023

Former Mojo Concerts head promoter Robert van Ommen has died at the age of 68. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013.

In a statement, the Dutch company said: “It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Robert van Ommen has passed away last week.

“Robert has been one of Mojo’s head promoters for many years and had built up a big international roster working with many international agents and agencies. He also worked with many domestic acts on their domestic tours, such as Marco Borsato and Anouk.

“After a period of two years of uncertainty and many tests, in 2013 Robert got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It was unimaginable that someone in the prime of his career had to leave Mojo and the business due to this terrible disease at such a young age.

“Robert was loyal, a very hard working promoter, and a mentor to many of us. We sympathise with his family and loved ones. We also reflect on life, how fleeting it can be, and that we will miss Robert forever. Love from all at Mojo to Robert.”

“Robert was a rock, always approachable for advice and he always gave his honest opinion”

Van Ommen’s funeral will be held in Leeuwenbergh, Utrecht, on Wednesday 18 October at 3pm. His family requests that attendees bring a single flower with them, while in lieu of flowers, they ask for donations to Alzheimer Nederland.

Paying tribute to his former colleague, Mojo co-founder Leon Ramakers says, “When business was expanding in the 90s, Mojo was looking for an experienced booker. We knew that Boomtown, Robert’s small agency, was making waves – he was dealing with this upcoming act called Radiohead…

“Happily, Robert turned out to be proud to join Mojo, where he developed into one of the best bookers of the company. Because of his illness, we’ve been missing Robert for years already. May he rest in peace!”

Mojo managing director John Mulder comments, “For me personally, Robert was a rock, always approachable for advice and he always gave his honest opinion. His advice always mattered to me.

“Robert and I have built many careers of Dutch artists together. Working with Robert was always constructive and result-oriented with an eye for details for both the artist and their fans.”

Former colleague Gideon Karting says, “Robert served as my mentor and taught me almost everything. Especially when to say yes to an agent, which was nearly always!”

“Robert taught me all the tricks of the trade in becoming a promoter”

Kim Bloem, Mojo head promoter, adds, “Robert taught me all the tricks of the trade in becoming a promoter. He introduced me to everybody in his network and very much supported me building a career along the way. He was a very gentle person, who always had an eye for personal lives.”

Live Nation executive president touring international music, Phil Bowdery tells IQ, “Robert was a really good friend. We had lots of similarities in our lives that we discussed often, and always made time to catch up, whenever in each other’s country.

“I’m so sad at his passing, even though he was not in a good place. I have and will miss him greatly. Sincere condolences to his family.”

CAA chief Emma Banks says, “Robert was a very special human. I considered him a friend and he was my ‘go-to’ person in Holland for a very long time. It was a very sad day when he retired from the business, I still miss him.

“I was so happy to see him a few years ago when I went to Amsterdam for his party. His warmth and humanity made Robert the wonderful person that I will always remember. The fact he was really good at his job was clearly a positive but it’s his outstanding attributes as a human being that are first and foremost in my mind.  Robert van Ommen, rest in peace knowing that you will always be in my heart.”

ILMC founder, Martin Hopewell, says, “I have very happy memories of working with Robert – not only because he was a lovely guy to chat to, but also because all of the shows we did together worked out really well and nothing horrible ever went wrong! As a promoter he was professional and precise –  and he also knew how to say “no”, which is a quality I secretly admire in a promoter.

“I’m glad that the ILMC was able to say goodbye to him when we made a video for a party thrown in his honour. We made it look as though I was recording a message from an empty conference room, but then turned the camera to reveal a room stuffed with about 500 ILMC delegates, jumping up and down, cheering their heads off and generally going nutty. That was a powerful moment and something I’ll never forget.”

13 Artists founder Charlie Myatt adds, “A great father.  A great promoter. A true gentleman and a great friend.  My heart goes out to his wonderful family.”

Robert van Ommen is survived by his wife, Delphine, and children Tim and Lauri.

 


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The Netherlands’ Pinkpop looks to the future

Pinkpop manager Niek Murray has delivered his verdict on this year’s festival and opened up on its rumoured expansion plans in a new interview with IQ.

Headlined by Pink, Robbie Williams and Red Hot Chili Peppers, the 70,000-cap Dutch institution enjoyed a late surge in ticket sales for its latest edition, held at Megaland in Landgraaf from 16-18 June.

“We sold a lot of tickets in the last week,” Murray tells IQ. “We ended up with around 62,500 people each day – 42,000 weekend tickets and 20,500 day tickets. We sold out our Glampink luxury area with 2,000 visitors. Last year, we had 1,000 capacity and this year we doubled it and sold out as well.”

Musical highlights also included well-received sets by Queens of the Stone Age, The War on Drugs and the Black Keys, while Murray was similarly effusive in his praise for domestic acts such as DI-RECT.

Launched in 1970, Pinkpop is organised by Mojo Concerts and is now the longest-running open-air festival in the world. Founder Jan Smeets stepped back from his role as festival director in 2020 after 50 years at the helm. While a wave of new features were introduced in 2022 following its two-year Covid-enforced hiatus, including changes to the layout of the site, this year’s vintage was an all-round more straightforward affair.

“We had to price the tickets €30 higher for the weekend. It’s not that we wanted to do it, but we had to do it as all costs have increased”

“We had a huge transformation last year, so this time it was more about fine tuning with the feedback we got from our audience and our crew,” explains Murray. “We had a lot of challenges last year, as everybody did after Covid. But we have worked with some of our suppliers for 30 or 40 years and they were more prepared for this year.

“We had a Bruce Springsteen concert on the site a week before so had already built a lot of infrastructure for Pinkpop. Also, the weather made the build very easy, so everyone was relaxed when the festival started – not like last year when it was over 30 degrees and too hot. This year, it was around 28 degrees but it was doable. So the crew was very relaxed, the audience was very relaxed and I think most of the acts were very relaxed and very happy. For me, it was one of the best festivals we’ve done in the last 20 years.”

Full-day festival tickets cost €135, with weekend tickets priced from €275 and special Wilhelmina Sky Deck passes from €370 (day tickets) and €840 for the weekend.

“Sky Deck, our VIP package, was also sold out with 600 people a day, so we are very pleased with the numbers,” notes Murray. “Overall, costs have exploded. It’s more expensive to produce the festival and that’s why we had to price the tickets €30 higher for the weekend. It’s not that we wanted to do it, but we had to do it as all costs have increased.”

“One of the things we’ve talked about is maybe adding an extra day, or trying to have more people on site”

Murray also plays down recent reports that Pinkpop is looking to add a fourth day and grow its daily visitors by 10,000.

“We’re still young; it was our 52nd edition so we have a lot of years to go,” he laughs. “Jan Smeets, our founder and longtime director, stepped back in 2020 and we’re now completely owned by Mojo Concerts, so we are talking a lot more about the future of the festival with our colleagues.

“Each year, we talk about how we see the Pinkpop festival developing in the next 10, 20, 25 years. And one of the things we’ve talked about is maybe adding an extra day, or trying to have more people on site. But that depends on the service we can provide, so there are ideas, but no concrete plans at the moment.

“But we don’t want to stand still. We want to try to make the festival better each year. If that means that in five years, we have an extra day, maybe, maybe not – I’m not sure at this moment. But there are possibilities and we want to explore them and see what’s good and possible for Pinkpop, so that we can have this conversation again in 50 years about our 105th edition!”

 


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MOJO names Arjo Klingens bookings manager NL

MOJO Concerts has announced that Arjo Klingens will become the manager of bookings for Dutch talent, as of 1 September.

Klingens joins the Live Nation-backed company from LaLaLa Management, where she was music and business manager for almost 18 years and looked after Dutch artists such as De Staat, Banji and Remy van Kesteren.

“I’m not a big fan of job hopping, but I’ve often thought about what would be a great next step in my career,” says Klingens.

“From the first conversation with MOJO about this new position, I immediately felt that this was made for me. It is an important development for Dutch music in general that a strong player like MOJO wants to give their local artists a more prominent place. MOJO and me, we go way back.

“From the first conversation with MOJO about this new position, I immediately felt that this was made for me”

“As a musician I was already booked by their NL department. Since then I have worked with this wonderful company in various roles. It is so beautiful to see how much passion these people have when it comes to music and artists. I know the strong team of NL bookers well and I have always enjoyed working with them. There is room for ideas, for finding new ways, for growing, all things that have always been important to me. With the common denominator of course the love of music.”

Ruben Brouwer, director of MOJO, adds: “We see that the market of Dutch artists within live music is still growing. We would like to expand our roster, and want to better show our added value for Dutch artists. Not only with our festivals, but also with our expertise in the field of marketing, production and our international network and experience.

“It is therefore important to have a dedicated bookings NL manager, who directs the team and is also the face to the outside. We know Arjo well. She knows what is going on and has seen many facets and angles of the business in her career, mainly from the artist side. She has made very valuable contributions to building artist careers. She really is a figurehead, and therefore a very logical choice.”

 


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MOJO festival drops VIP tickets after fan backlash

Dutch festival Down the Rabbit Hole has dropped the introduction of VIP tickets after a deluge of criticism from fans.

The Mojo Concerts-promoted festival is due to take place between 30 June and 2 July in the Dutch province of Gelderland with acts including Fred Again…, Stromae and Paolo Nutini.

The sold-out festival yesterday (25 April) announced VIP tickets, dubbed Rabbit Royale, which promised faster access to the festival site and access to luxurious toilets and a panorama deck among other things.

A standard three-day ticket for the festival cost €245, with a Rabbit Royale upgrade reportedly costing another €360.

But following the announcement a number of fans expressed displeasure about the offering. “I thought that this festival was an equal experience for all visitors. All rabbits in the same hole. Unfortunately the big money wins,” wrote one fan.

“Clearly we are missing the plank on this so we’re unplugging”

Down the Rabbit Hole responded by cancelling the sale of the Rabbit Royale tickets and contacting fans who had already bought a pass.

“Clearly we are missing the plank on this so we’re unplugging,” wrote the festival in a statement.

The statement continued: “We work with heart and soul to ensure and improve the quality of Down The Rabbit Hole for all visitors wherever possible. Thus there will be more toilets this year, we have renovated a number of stages and tents and the campsites are better organised. At the same time, the festival sector faces great challenges. Costs for staff and materials as well as gages for artists are rising disproportionately, which puts pressure on the affordability of festivals.

“By offering extras in addition to the regular festival ticket that we generate additional income, we catch the price increases and keep the festival tickets as affordable as possible. For example, think of camping at Rabbit Resort, with which we also provide for a need. From that thought Rabbit Royale was also born.

“We’ll see next year if there are other extras that fit well with Down The Rabbit Hole and that makes everyone happy.”

 


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Lowlands festival site to be used as refugee shelter

The festival site where Dutch festivals Lowlands and Defqon. 1 are held each year will become a shelter for more than 1,000 registered refugees.

The first refugees are expected at Walibi Holland in Biddinghuizen, central Netherlands, in three weeks’ time and will be accommodated in temporary housing units until next spring.

The shelter will be used to relieve the burden on the asylum seekers’ centre in Ter Apel, Groningen, until April 2023 when the site will be available for festivals again.

The mayor of governing providence Dronten, Jean Paul Gebber, tells de Volkskrant that Walibi Holland is a good choice for a temporary shelter because of the festivals that are organised there. “If we can build a village here for 60,000 people three times a year, we can also set up a village for 1,500 asylum seekers if there is a need for it.”

The mayor of Dronten says that Walibi Holland is a good choice because of the festivals that are organised there

Walibi Holland hosts the 55,000-capacity Lowlands (aka A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise) in August each year, with the 2023 edition set for 18–20 of that month.

The festival’s promoter, Live Nation-backed Mojo Concerts, recently opened the world’s largest solar carport in Walibi Holland’s on-site car park.

The site is shared by Defqon. 1 which is promoted by Q-dance, part of the Superstruct-backed ID&T group.

The electronic dance music festival is due to return to the site between 22–25 June, 2023.

 


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