Covid-19 lay-offs hit Dutch live market
Promoter Friendly Fire has become the latest Dutch concert business to make redundancies following a challenging summer, according to local media.
Amsterdam-based Friendly Fire, part of CTS Eventim’s Eventim Live grouping, organises festivals such as Best Kept Secret (25,000-cap.), Indian Summer (30,000-cap.) and Tuckerville (30,000-cap.) and promotes both local and international artists, including the 1975, Fontaines DC, alt-J and Pip Blom. The National, the Strokes and Massive Attack will headline the company’s flagship event, Best Kept Secret, next year; the festival, like all major events, was axed in 2020 because of Covid-19.
Of its 35 employees, Friendly Fire has been forced to let go of ten, reports public broadcaster VPRO.
The lay-offs at Friendly Fire follow redundancies at other Dutch live entertainment stalwarts
The lay-offs at Friendly Fire follow redundancies at other Dutch live entertainment stalwarts, including the country’s leading promoter, Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, which has laid off around a third of its staff, according to VPRO.
Other Dutch industry professionals to have lost their jobs in recent months include staff at arenas Ziggo Dome (14 of 34) and AFAS Live (10 of 25) and pro-AV company Ampco Flashlight Group.
The Dutch live music industry, united under umbrella group the Alliance of Event Builders, recently warned of a wave of bankruptcies of events businesses without further government support for the sector.
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Netherlands latest EU country hit by summer event ban
There will be no festivals in the Netherlands this summer, as the Dutch government imposes a ban on all large-scale events until 1 September.
The move follows similar decisions taken in some of Europe’s biggest festival markets including Germany, Belgium and Denmark, where events are banned until 31 August, as well as slightly shorter bans in France (mid-July) Austria (end of June) and Luxembourg (31 July), and is in line with European Union guidance.
The government in the Netherlands had previously stated public events were not permitted until 1 June, affecting festivals including DGTL Amsterdam, Awakenings Easter and Dauwpop.
The extended ban has resulted in the calling off of major festivals organised by Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts, Friendly Fire – part of the CTS Eventim-owned FKP Scorpio group – and dance music giant ID&T.
“We all saw it coming, but the hammer has finally fallen: there will be no Lowlands this summer,” reads a statement on the Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise (Lowlands) website, set to take place from 21 to 23 August with performances from Stormzy, the Chemical Brothers, Foals and Liam Gallagher.
“Like you, we are heartbroken. All we can do now is look to the future and promise you that we’ll make Lowlands 2021 an all-out party beyond your wildest dreams.”
“Like you, we are heartbroken. All we can do now is look to the future and promise you that we’ll make Lowlands 2021 an all-out party beyond your wildest dreams”
Mojo-promoted Lowlands is part of the Netherlands’ ‘Save your ticket, enjoy later’ campaign, supported by the Dutch government and competition watchdog ACM, encouraging fans to hang on to tickets for a later date, rather than request refunds.
Lowlands will return from 20 to 22 August 2021.
Fellow Mojo festivals, Pinkpop (Guns N Roses, Post Malone, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Down the Rabbit Hole (Tyler the Creator, Disclosure, FKA Twigs), North Sea Jazz Festival (Alicia Keys, John Legend, Lionel Richie) and Woo Hah! (Kendrick Lamar, Asap Ferg, Aitch) have all moved to 2021 following the ban.
The cancellation of the 8th edition of Friendly Fire’s Best Kept Secret, which had a line-up including the Strokes, the National and Massive Attack, is a “massive blow”, say organisers.
“This news has an enormous impact on our festival and everyone involved. For us it makes an enormous difference if you decide to stay with us in 2021. By doing so, you’ll help secure the foundation of Best Kept Secret so that we can organise a fantastic edition for you next year.”
Best Kept Secret returns from 11 to 13 June 2021.
Netherlands-based dance music promoter ID&T has also had a number of events affected by the extended ban. The group states “we will do everything in our power to find an alternative date for all concerned events,” with the 2021 dates for festival including Defqon.1, Awakenings, Mysteryland and Amsterdam Open Air already announced.
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Festival Fever: updates on 2020 summer
Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from Bluedot, Sziget festival, Reading and Leeds, Lowlands, Flow Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival.
(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)
When: 23 to 26 July
Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK
How many: 16,000
From the Fields’ Bluedot festival, which takes place each year at the Jodrell Band Observatory – a recently declared UNESCO World Heritage site – is back for its fifth outing in 2020 with another packed programme of music and science.
Friday night sees dance act Groove Armada head up the main stage, with indie-electro group Metronomy headlining on Saturday. The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk, who is performing alongside Manchester’s Halle Orchestra to a backdrop of bespoke projections on Jodrell Bank’s crowning jewel, the Lovell Telescope.
Elsewhere, performances will come from 808 State, Roisin Murphy, Crazy P, Spiritualized and Daniel Avery.
Last year’s Bluedot, which coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, saw headline performances from Hot Chip, Kraftwerk and New Order.
Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are available here, priced at £168.75 for a weekend camping ticket.
The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk
When: 5 to 11 August
Where: Obuda island, Budapest, Hungary
How many: 60,000
Hungarian mega-festival Sziget released the first wave of its line-up last week, with a total of five headline acts announced so far.
Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage at the week-long festival, with ASAP Rocky, Khalid, Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Foals, Mark Ronson, Foster the People, Diplo and FKA Twigs among other acts performing at the event.
Over 530,000 people attended Sziget 2019, which saw nine headline performances over seven days from Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine, Martin Garrix, the 1975, Twenty One Pilots, the National and Macklemore.
Providence Equity partners took a 70% stake in Sziget promoter Sziget Cultural Management in 2017, as the festival became one of the first assets in the now-significant Superstruct portfolio.
Tickets for Sziget 2020 are available here, with a full seven-day pass costing €299 (£249) and a VIP pass priced at €599 (£499). Prices go up on 3 March.
Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage
Reading and Leeds
When: 28 to 30 August
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading/Bramham Park, Leeds, UK
How many: 100,000
Festival Republic’s twin festivals Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine this year, with fellow headliners Stormzy and Liam Gallagher.
Other performers at 2020 events include Run the Jewels, Courteeners, Migos, Gerry Cinnamon, AJ Tracey, Sam Fender, Rex Orange County, Slowthai and Idles.
The festivals last year recorded their hottest and biggest year yet, with nearly 200,00 people a day collectively attending the twin events over the hottest August bank holiday on record. Headline performances came from the 1975, Foo Fighters and Twenty One Pilots, with then-rising star, now multi award-winner Billie Eilish producing what “may well have been the biggest crowd at a Reading show ever”.
Tickets to Reading and Leeds festivals are available here, with a weekend ticket priced at £232.20 and day tickets priced between £81.50 and £86.50.
Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine, with Stormzy and Liam Gallagher
A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise
When: 21 to 23 August
Where: Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands
How many: 55,000
Mojo Concerts’ A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, or Lowlands, has confirmed the first 55 acts for its 2020 festival.
The Chemical Brothers, Foals, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Stormzy and Michael Kiwanuka are among acts playing at this year’s event.
The 2019 edition of Lowlands sold out for the fastest time in years, with a line-up featuring Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, ASAP Rocky and New Order.
In a bid to make future events more sustainable, Mojo is working together with renewable energy producer Solarfields to develop a 35-hectare solar farm on the Lowlands festival car park, due to be completed in time for 2021 festival.
Festival tickets for Lowlands 2020 have sold out, but €605 (£504) group camping tickets (up to 8 people) are still available here.
The Chemical Brothers, Foals and Lewis Capaldi are among acts playing at this year’s event
When: 14 to 16 August
Where: Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki-based, multi-venue music and arts event Flow Festival is playing host to acts including Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco, Stormzy, the Strokes, FKA Twigs and 070 Shake.
The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance and comes in a string of Scandinavian festival appearances, adding to slots at Norway’s Oya festival and Way Out West in Sweden.
James Barton-led festival owner/operator Superstruct acquired a stake in Flow Festival in November 2018.
Tickets for Flow Festival 2020 are available here, with a one-day ticket costing €105 (£88) and a three-day passed priced at €195 (£163).
The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance
Montreux Jazz Festival
When: 3 to 18 July
Where: Montreux, Switzerland
How many: 200,000 (whole festival)
Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz, Brittany Howard and Black Pumas are the first acts announced this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF).
Taking place on the banks of Lake Geneva, MJF celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and last year played host to performers including Elton John, Snarky Puppy, Lewis Capaldi, George Ezra, Lizzo, the Chemical Brothers, Mac DeMarco and Quincy Jones.
The MJF team last year launched media company Montreux Media Ventures, which is working together with luxury hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resort Group to establish a concert series across the group’s properties and keep the MJF spirit alive all year.
Tickets to Montreux Jazz Festival 2020 will become available on March 27, the day after the full programme is released.
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Lowlands festival to build 35-hectare solar park
Mojo Concerts has teamed up with renewable energy producer Solarfields to develop a 35-hectare solar farm on the Lowlands festival car park.
A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise – or Lowlands – sold out in the fastest time for years last year, with performances from Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, ASAP Rocky, the National and New Order.
In a bid to make the event more sustainable, festival organiser Mojo is working with Solarfields to implement 90,000 solar panels in its car park, generating 35 million kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity annually – enough to power 100 festival weekends per year.
The project will result in the largest solar carport in the world and is due to be finished in May 2021.
“Without swift and concrete measures, our young visitors will experience the effects of climate change and environmental pollution in their daily lives,” comments festival director Eric van Eerdenburg.
“We hope to be a source of inspiration for our visitors to play their part in making the world more sustainable”
“As a festival organisation, we want to be part of the solution and contribute to an optimistic view of the future. We hope to be a source of inspiration for our visitors to play their part – no matter how small – in making the world more sustainable.”
Van Eerdenburg states that the festival team began to look at how to improve sustainability around 12 years ago, adding that, “actualising this together with Solarfields on a large scale is a long-held dream come true.”
”Over the past two-and-a-half years, we have worked hard with Mojo to address all challenges involved in a project of this magnitude,” says Solarfields director Jalmer Pijlman.
“We were fortunate to get a great deal of support along the way and think it is fantastic that we can announce this now. The location is perfect for making the Netherlands more sustainable and this project is a wonderful example of multiple land use: parking and sustainable energy production in the same space.”
The Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI), a leading gathering for sustainability at live events, is taking place on Tuesday 3 March in London. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.
Dutch concert revenue up 25% in 2019
New figures have shown that over 2.9 million people attended large concerts (over 3,000-cap.) in the Netherlands in 2019, a 16 % rise from the year before, with Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome recording the highest footfall of any venue in the country.
The findings, presented by research agency Response and the Association of Events Makers (VVEM) at Eurosonic Noorderslag last week, show revenue generated by live music events equalled €165 million in 2019, a 25% rise from the year before.
According to the VVEM, the revenue increase is due in part to a 7% growth in the number of large concerts in the Netherlands last year, “regular price increases” and a rise in the tax levied on live event tickets from 6% to 9%. Ticket prices rose on average by 7% in 2019, to €56.60.
The 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam was the most-visited concert venue, welcoming over one million fans in 2019
The 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam – the city that took 75% of the national large concert market share – was the most-visited concert venue, welcoming over one million fans in 2019. Afas Live (6,000-cap.) offered 80 live events over the year, the highest number of any venue, and reported the second highest number of visitors at 412,000.
Mojo Concerts, which celebrated its 50th year in 2018, remained the “most important” concert promoter according to the report, with Amsterdam-based Friendly Fire recording the most growth.
Dutch singer Marco Borsato sold the most tickets of any artist, attracting 240,000 fans, with André Rieu’s concerts at the Vrijthof in Maastricht and Guus Meeuwis’ shows in Eindhoven also proving popular with 150,000 and 135,000 tickets apiece.
Photo: Shirley de Jong/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Festival Fever: a further glance at 2020 line-ups
Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ takes a peek at what organisers of Hellfest, Longitude, Lollapalooza Stockholm, Rock am Ring/Rock im Park and NorthSide have up their sleeves for the summer to come.
(See last week’s edition of Festival Fever here.)
When: 19 to 21 June
Where: Clisson, France
How many: 50,000
French metal festival Hellfest celebrated one of its best editions ever last year, which included an extra day to host the Slipknot-fronted Knotfest within the festival site.
The 2020 festival will feature headliners Deftones, Faith No More and System of a Down, playing alongside Incubus, Korn, Deep Purple and Judas Priest.
Earlier this year, a man was sentenced to a month in prison for hacking into the onsale of the French festival. The hacker, who works in cybersecurity, claimed he had only wanted to buy tickets to Hellfest 2020 “without having to queue”.
Tickets for Hellfest 2020 are sold out. Organisers advise fans to use fan-to-fan resale site TicketSwap to buy or sell tickets to the festival.
The 2020 festival will feature headliners Deftones, Faith No More and System of a Down
When: 5 to 7 July
Where: Marlay Park, Dublin, Ireland
How many: 40,000
MCD Productions’ Longitude festival is returning in 2020 with headline performances from Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Asap Rocky.
The event will also see performances from the likes of J Hus, AJ Tracey, Young Thug, Aitch, Playboi Carti and Dababy.
The Longitude line-up announcement comes shortly after the news that Denis Desmond-led MCD is bringing back alternative-rock festival Sunstroke in 2020. The event, which takes place from 13 to 14 June at Punchestown Racecourse near Naas in Ireland, features headliners Faith No More and Deftones.
Tickets for Longitude festival are available here, priced at €89.50 (£75) for a day ticket and €199.50 (£168) for a weekend pass. Tickets for Sunstroke can be bought here, with day tickets costing €79.50 (£67) and weekend camping tickets costing €169.50 (£143).
Longitude festival is returning with headline performances from Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Asap Rocky
When: 26 to 28 June
Where: Gärdet, Stockholm, Sweden
The debut edition of Lollapalooza Stockholm took place last year, signalling the festival franchise’s first edition in Scandinavia and third in Europe after Lolla Berlin and Paris.
The festival, which is produced by Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell, WME, C3 Presents and Live Nation Sweden with subsidiary company Luger, features headline performances from Post Malone, Pearl Jam, the Killers and Kendrick Lamar, as well as appearances from Ellie Goulding, Zara Larsson, Kacey Musgraves and Camila Cabello.
Launched in Chicago in 1991, Lollapalooza events now take place in Sweden, France, Germany, Chile, Brazil and Argentina, as well as the US.
Three-day early bird passes are available here for SEK 2,295 (£185).
The debut edition of Lollapalooza Stockholm took place last year
Rock am Ring/Rock im Park
When: 5 to 7 June
Where: Nürburgring race track/Zeppelinfeld, Nürnberg, Germany
How many: 90,000
Marek Lieberberg’s twin festivals Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, the biggest in Germany and among the largest in the world, are turning 35 and 25 respectively in 2020.
Headliners for the anniversary events come in the form of System of a Down, Green Day and Volbeat, with performances also coming from Babymetal, Korn, Gojira, Deftones, the Offspring, Weezer and Yungblud.
The past two editions of the festivals have proved successful, following three years plagued by inclement weather and possible terror threats.
Headliners for the anniversary events come in the form of System of a Down, Green Day and Volbeat
When: 4 to 6 June
Where: Aarhus, Denmark
How many: 40,000
The 2020 edition of Down the Drain’s NorthSide festival will be the last at its current site in the Ådalen river valley, near the Danish city of Aarhus, as the event prepares to move to a new site, more than twice the size of its original home, in Eskelund, also near Aarhus.
Described as ‘a controlled chaos’ by festival CEO Brian Nielsen, NorthSide has already confirmed acts for 2020 including Green Day, Robyn, Weezer, White Lies, Johnny Marr, Franc Moody and Jung.
Down the Drain Group, which wholly acquired the festival from FKP Scorpio in 2018, earlier this year received investment from Providence Equity-backed Superstruct Entertainment.
Tickets for NorthSide 2020 are available here, priced at DDK 1,935 (£218) for a full festival pass and DDK 1,195 (£135) for a day ticket.
Festivals make green pledge at ADE 2019
A group of 20 festivals from seven different countries have pledged their commitment to increasing sustainability efforts today (Friday 18 October) at ADE Green, the environment-focused sub-conference of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE).
Representatives from Dutch festivals including Amsterdam Open Air, DGTL, Down the Rabbit Hole, Lowlands, North Sea Jazz and Into the Great Wide Open, as well as Denmark’s Roskilde, the UK’s Boardmasters, Boomtown and Shambala, Ireland’s Body & Soul, French festival We Love Green, the Berlin edition of Festival Republic’s Lollapalooza festival, and others, signed the Green Deal Festivals Circular onstage with Dutch environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven.
The pledge will see the participating festivals become completely circular, or sustainable, by 2025.
“This deal has a great value for all involved,” said Roskilde’s Freja Marie Frederiksen, speaking at the event. “We can all learn from each other and improve things much more quickly.”
“Collaboration is the key to the urgently needed change in how we deal with energy, water, food, mobility, plastic and other materials,” added Paul Schurink of Green Events International, organising partner of ADE Green and an initiator of the green deal along with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
“Collaboration is the key to the urgently needed change in how we deal with energy, water, food, mobility, plastic and other materials”.
“With a combined number of over three million festival visitors we can make an enormous impact.”
Topics discussed throughout the day at ADE Green included responsible plastic use, DJ’s air miles and innovative ways to change the industry. A workshop run by sustainability expert Douwe Luijnenburg instructed delegates on how to manage events in a environmentally friendly way.
Elsewhere, green initiatives will again take centre stage later today at the launch of Exit festival’s Life Stream, a project aiming to increase audience awareness around environmental issues.
The team behind the Exit events will broadcast performances from DJs Artbat, Coeus, After Affair, Andrew Meller and DJ Jock live from the Faralda Crane Hotel in Amsterdam from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Environmental imagery and statements will be incorporated into the live stream.
The Life Stream platform will be used throughout Exit Festival’s 20th anniversary event, which takes place from 9 to 12 July 2020 in Novi Sad, Serbia.
More than 9,000 delegates registered for this year’s ADE which kicked off on 16 October and wraps up on Sunday, 20 October.
Former Mojo boss Ramakers receives Dutch royal award
Leon Ramakers, the former, long-term director of Mojo Concerts, been made an officer of the Order of Orange Nassau for his contributions to the live music industry from deputy mayor of Amsterdam, Touria Meliani.
Ramakers received the royal award for “his major contribution to the cultural sector” and, in particular, for his efforts in promoting and developing “international pop music in the Netherlands” as part of Mojo Concerts, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
The award also recognised the support Ramakers offered to start-ups in the music industry and across the cultural sector. The ex-Mojo chief has also held various administrative and supervisory positions within the Dutch cultural landscape, including in architecture and in publishing.
In 1970, Ramakers met Mojo co-founder Berry Visser when buying tickets for a Led Zeppelin concert. Shortly after, the pair put on Holland Pop Festival, one of the first multi-day rock festivals in Holland. The event was headlined by Pink Floyd and featured performances form the Byrds, T. Rex and Santana.
Ramakers received the royal award for his efforts in promoting and developing “international pop music in the Netherlands”
Mojo was also responsible for the Netherlands’ first-ever stadium concert in 1978, putting on a Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan show at the Feijenoord stadium in Rotterdam (then 69,000-cap.).
Ramakers was instrumental in the setting up of Amsterdam venues AFAS Live (6,000-cap.), formerly the Heineken Music Hall, and the Ziggo Dome (17,000-cap.).
The former Mojo director received a Golden Harp at the Buma Awards earlier this month, alongside Pinkpop festival founder Jan Smeets. The judges commented on Ramakers’ contribution to the professionalisation of the concert industry and his influence on the talent development of various bands and artists.
My breakthrough moment: Industry pros on their career turning points
Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder.
In the first of new series of articles, IQ puts four industry figures in the spotlight by asking them to share the stories of their breakthrough moments…
Joe Schavion, Live Nation
The turning point for me was getting an email out of the blue from a guy called Nick Dewey who was looking for someone to join his festival booking team. It wasn’t a name I’d heard before, so I called up Laura Taylor of Everybody’s Management asking: “Who is he?” She said: “It’s Emily Eavis’s husband.” It was Nick from the festival I grew up idolising.
I remember the date very clearly, as it was 1 April, so I thought it might be a wind-up, but I went to meet Nick and began helping out on bookings for Glastonbury, which was amazing. That experience led to agents taking me more seriously and national promoters getting in touch, including Sam Bush from Global.
Sam and I instantly hit it off and worked together for a couple of years before both being offered the opportunity to join Live Nation [in 2017]. I now find myself in the room where the biggest tours in the world – Drake, Taylor Swift, Guns N’ Roses – are being discussed and I’m learning so much all the time. The infrastructure is in place around me – now I just need to become the biggest and best promoter I can be.
I remember the date very clearly, as it was 1 April, so I thought it might be a wind-up
Kim Bloem, Mojo Concerts
When I started as a booker of mostly jazz shows in 2001, there was one artist that I could not imagine ever promoting: Prince. Being a huge fan and just starting as a booker, doing so was completely out of my league, and I thought that if I did ever do it, I would then quit my job, as it would have been the highest achievement possible.
Jazz and related music then became more widely supported by the general public through the likes of Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, Michael Bublé and John Legend. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right moment. I had picked up on these artists and suddenly I was going to promote them for bigger audiences than I was used to, and the idea of being a part of what made an artist’s career fly made me feel like I was really contributing to something; it was the first time I ordered champagne and flowers for the dressing rooms!
In 2004, Norah Jones sold out two Heineken Music Hall (HMH) shows. This was when the bosses at Mojo asked me to become a promoter and book bigger shows, which was a turning point in my career.
A year later, Jamie Cullum became the new, crazy jazz kid in town and was immensely popular, selling three HMHs, while Bublé started selling a lot of tickets and went from theatre-level to the football stadium GelreDome [41,000-cap.]. John Legend sold from HMH level to 18,000 tickets in a field, and Jason Mraz did the same, all beyond expectation. And then, in 2010, I received a call asking me to put on a show with Prince in a stadium, within two weeks – a dream come true!
But, as I had become addicted to this business, I’m still here, and celebrating every show that gets confirmed, big or small.
I was introduced to band members as I was flyering the queue myself. No doubt that made some kind of impression!
Steve Tilley, Kilimanjaro Live
I was new at Kilimanjaro in August 2008, and the enormity of the challenge to build a roster weighed heavily. I felt I had my work cut out to compete on the national level.
I saw Frightened Rabbit go first on at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in early October and knew they had a bright future! It was just a hunch but I enthusiastically told their then-agent Jess that a headline Scala [800-cap.] show would be a no-brainer. As a fan, I knew that the Midnight Organ Fight was going to clean up in the end-of-year album polls.
Jess was overjoyed to hear my suggestion, because rival promoters for the artist were not showing the same ambition. By late November, my first-ever Scala show was confirmed for the following April. Frightened Rabbit were already booked to open for Biffy Clyro at their December 2008 Brixton Academy show and I was introduced to band members as I was flyering the queue myself. No doubt that made some kind of impression!
The Scala sold out, and on the night Steve Strange turned up, as he had just taken on the band. He assured me I was still the guy to promote the band in London (and elsewhere) and a little bit more of me started to really believe I could make it as a national promoter.
When Scott Hutchison passed away last year, it was just over nine years since the Scala show. His death happened right on the eve of my huge outdoor gigs with Ed Sheeran, so I had to deal with the tragedy of a lost friend while also trying to celebrate a personal career milestone that in 2008 seemed like a world inhabited by others. Talk about mixed emotions.
2018, therefore, became my tribute to Scott, because the belief he and his band showed in me was something that gave me even more belief in myself. I wish, like many others, that I could bring him back. He was loved by so many. So, thank you, Scott (and Grant, Billy and Andy).
I found myself fresh out of uni sharing the stage with then-MD of Live Nation, Stuart Galbraith
Claire O’Neill, A Greener Festival
After studying music industry management at BCUC (interspersed with psychedelic adventures of cosmic exploration in the woods and across mainland Europe) in 2005, I decided my dissertation title would be Should UK Music Festivals Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices?. The reasoning: there was a staggering disparity between how major festivals were being operated, and what was both possible and necessary for the industry to be greener.
There was no way the ‘big boys’ were going to be swayed to change business as usual by rave-culture, revolution rhetoric alone. I needed a strategy! This strategy was to show that paying audiences wanted greener festivals, and to give clear examples of how this was possible.
Regardless of the content and the intent, dissertations are destined to gather dust in a draw for eternity. Or so I thought. Luckily for me, my intellectual property and contract law lecturer, Ben Challis, kindly read my dissertation, as I sought his sagely critique from his years of work with Glastonbury Festival, Yourope and the live music industry in general. It was thanks to Ben that our dear friend and my classmate, Luke Westbury, turned the findings of the dissertation into a website: Agreenerfestival.com. Festivals started calling.
Ben also suggested to ILMC (I think ILMC 18 or 19) that I should present my research. I found myself fresh out of uni giving my first presentation and panel discussion with a packed room of ILMC delegates, sharing the stage with then-MD of Live Nation, Stuart Galbraith, and someone from the aviation industry who provides private jets for artists, with Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn in the front row. It was a baptism of fire for which I am very grateful.
Twelve or so years later, and A Greener Festival has assessed and certified circa 500 festivals worldwide including heavyweights like Glastonbury and Roskilde Festival, organised the Green Events & Innovations Conference (now in its 11th year) alongside ILMC, and trained over 100 sustainability managers and assessors from 15+ countries.
Rising prices and reduced attendance for EU festivals
Despite a seemingly successful year, IQ’s European Festival Report 2018 shows that a continuation of ticket price rises and event attendance reduction is a major concern for organisers of European music festivals in 2018.
Ticket prices for European festivals again rose last year, having stabilised over the 2017 festival season. Festivalgoers paid €178 on average for a 2018 festival ticket, a price hike of 8.3% and an increase well above inflation rates across the continent. Of the 105 festivals that disclosed pricing details, 44 froze prices from 2017 to 2018, 2 lowered prices, and 59 (56.2%) charged more.
The continuing escalation of artist fees, along with increasing production costs, are the main contributors to such increases. Eric van Eerdenburg of Dutch powerhouse Mojo Concerts says the “crisis in talent” is responsible for “pushing up the price that the consumer has to pay”, making it hard to attract a young crowd.
“We’re pricing ourselves out of the business by potentially alienating the next generation of fans and not enough people seem to care about that situation,” says Eerdenburg.
Indeed, in contrast to previous years, festivals reported a slight fall in average capacity last year. On average, events saw a decrease of 2.7% in attendance, from 40,575 in 2017 to 39,475 in 2018.
“We’re pricing ourselves out of the business by potentially alienating the next generation of fans and not enough people seem to care about that situation”
Fewer events sold out in 2018 than during the previous year, with 45% of events selling all tickets as opposed to 53% the year before. Of the surveyed festivals, 18% reported a downturn in ticket sales.
Organisers gave a wide-ranging list of reasons for reduced attendance and ticket sales, citing market saturation, competition from new, small festivals, unfavourable weather, lack of headliners, fear of terror attacks and uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
A record number of 130 events took part in the European Festival Report 2018, reflecting the continual expansion of the European festival market which, despite challenges, shows no signs of slowing down.
Get the full lowdown on Europe’s festival summer, including insights into capacity and attendance, staffing, ticketing and pricing, overseas attendance, VIP options, major improvements and more, in the European Festival Report 2018.