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Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 to go ahead

The 55th Montreux Jazz Festival will go ahead this July in a reimagined, Covid-secure format, organisers announced today (31 March).

In a first, Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 will take partially on Lake Geneva, with maximum of 600 people able to watch performances on the main stage from seats on the lake shoreline. Three other stages with a smaller capacity, located in the event spaces and gardens of the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace hotel, will also host live music performances, alongside jam sessions, workshops and other events.

Through a previously announced deal with livestreaming platform Qello Concerts, performances from the physical festival will also be made available in a digital format free of charge.

On the ground, artists will perform on four stages, the largest of which, the aforementioned Lake (Lac) stage, will be built atop Lake Geneva, 25 metres from the shore and have a seated capacity of 600. The second stage, the 300-seat Petit Théâtre, located in the grand Salle des Fêtes at the Montreux Palace, will showcase “jazz fused with different influences, with a fresh and contemporary feel”.

The free-to-access Grand Hall will focus on artists affiliated with the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation, while the similarly open-to-all Gardens will feature acoustic performances, DJ sets, a cocktail bar and food stalls.

“Our stages’ capacities will be even smaller, which will create an exceptional streaming experience for international audiences who can’t come to the festival”

The Lake stage, in particular, was a long-time dream of festival founder Claude Nobs, who passed away in 2013. “In a year when everything seems impossible, we wanted to do Claude Nobs proud and channel his favourite saying, ’Nothing is impossible’,” say organisers.

MJF’s announcement it is forging ahead follows a raft of recent festival cancellations in Switzerland.

Mathieu Jaton, CEO of Montreux Jazz Festival, says: “We are thrilled to unveil our brand-new format for this year’s festival, which pursues our hybrid model strategy. Montreux Jazz Festival has always been about creating very special concerts where artists can feel up close and personal with their fans while sharing these unique moments worldwide through audiovisual content.”

Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 stages

The format of the 55th MJF will evolve based on the public health situation in consultation with the local and national authorities, says the festival, while contact tracing will be required for each festival zone (the Montreux Palace, Lake stage area and the Gardens). It will not, however, be necessary to reserve places for the free activities and zones, which will remain open until they reach maximum capacity.

“This year, our stages’ capacities will be even smaller due to Covid-19 restrictions, which will create an exceptional streaming experience for international audiences who can’t come to the festival,” adds Jaton. “The content will be especially breathtaking from our new stage built above the water on Lake Geneva, with the Alps in the background.”


Line-up and ticket information for Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 will be released in the coming weeks.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Montreux Jazz Festival goes hybrid with Qello deal

Montreux Jazz Festival will take place at least partially in the digital realm in 2021, livestreaming all performances from its 55th edition as part of a plan to protect the festival against future disruption.

The Swiss festival, whose 2020 edition was replaced by a 16-day YouTube event, Summer of Music, has struck an exclusive deal with Canadian company Stingray to make all sets available to watch free of charge anywhere in the world. In addition, all future editions of Montreux Jazz Festival will be streamed via Stingray’s Qello Concerts platform, which already has access to around 50 historical Montreux performances, including Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, Deep Purple and Marvin Gaye.

The festival is expected to announce details about its 2021 edition, as well as new deals and partnerships which will “further futureproof” the event, in the coming weeks. MJF 2021 is provisionally scheduled for 2–17 July,

Commenting on the Stingray partnership, Nick Bonard, CEO of Montreux Media Ventures, says: “Our deal with Qello Concerts by Stingray to livestream the festival is a key part of our hybrid model, creating an always-on experience. Streaming is a crucial medium for securing the continued success of the festival: if people can’t come to the festival, we will bring it to them.

“If people can’t come to the festival, we will bring it to them”

“This deal will enable us to adapt and respond more nimbly to the key challenges facing the sector while generating support for the true lifeblood of the Montreux Jazz Festival – bold new talent – for many more years to come.”

In related Montreux news, the festival has announced the launch of MJF Spotlight, a new-music brand that will support up-and-coming talent through digital content, including recorded live sessions, special events and a Spotify playlist, and a showcase night at the festival itself.

“The lack of concerts and festivals has a severe impact on the emergence of new artists. At Montreux Jazz Festival, hundreds of up-and-coming talent usually perform each summer on our various stages,” says Mathieu Jaton, CEO Montreux Jazz Festival. “With the launch of MJF Spotlight, we will now be able to promote new talent throughout the year on our digital channels, independently of the festival line-up.

“This initiative brings together our booking team’s competence, Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation’s support to emerging talent and Montreux Media Ventures’ digital content expertise.”


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Montreux Jazz Festival to launch China edition

Renowned Swiss event Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) is set to launch a new edition in China next year with a programme that’ll explore the theme of ‘when west meets east’.

The schedule will combine Chinese and Asian music as well as jazz, which has been enjoying a new lease of life in the country in recent years.

The new edition is due to take place between 5–8 October 2021 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and will be the Swiss event’s third international partner alongside Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

“The Montreux Jazz Festival is a legendary event, revered by music lovers from all over the world. I played there for the first time in 1982 and today, 40 years later, I have the honour of being the musical director of the festival in China,” says Ted Lo, musical director of the MJF China.

“After Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, we are pursuing our journey of mutual cultural and musical exchange in China”

“We are delighted to welcome Hangzhou and the passionate team of MJF China into the great MJF family,” added CEO of the MFJ Mathieu Jaton. “After Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, we are pursuing our journey of mutual cultural and musical exchange, values which have always been dear to MJF.”

The original festival in Montreux, Switzerland was founded by Claude Nobs in 1967 and has played host to artists including Etta James, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Ms Lauren Hill, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie.

This year, in light of the pandemic, MJF held a 16-day virtual music festival showcasing iconic Montreux performances from festivals past to mark what would have been its 54th edition.

MJF is due to hold four editions of the renowned festival in 2021: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the end of spring; the flagship festival in Montreux, Switzerland (2–17 July); Tokyo, Japan in the autumn; and finally Hangzhou, China.

Read IQ‘s feature on how MJF has softened the impact of Covid-19 by diversifying into digital content and live programming for its partners here.


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IQ Focus: The Top 10 sessions so far

Since launching IQ Focus, a weekly series of livestreamed panels that debuted in May, we’ve been inviting heavyweights from the international live music business to discuss issues ranging from the trials and tribulations of a pandemic to the systemic racism brought to light by Blackout Tuesday, and everything in between.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The Innovation Session, for example, heard panellists discuss the flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas that have come out of the coronavirus crisis. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid presented expert opinions on how to protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists. What all these sessions have had in common is a sense of optimism, opportunity and determination, as our industry forges ahead into the unknown.

This week we’re taking some time off from IQ Focus, but in the meantime, please enjoy our top ten sessions from the past couple of months and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications about future IQ Focus sessions.


1. Festival Forum: Here Comes ’21

Hosted by ILMC head Greg Parmley, a panel comprising Europe’s festival elite discuss the collapse of this year’s festival season, as well as predictions for the next. Jim King (AEG Presents), Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Rachael Greenfield (Bloodstock Open Air), Anders Wahren (Roskilde Festival) and Mathieu Jaton (Montreux Jazz Festival) update us on how they’re coping in unprecedented circumstances; what lessons have been learned, which challenges have been faced and crucially, what the road to recovery looks like.


2. The Agency Business: 3.0

The Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges for both multinational agencies and boutique outfits. From juggling investors to dealing with a hiatus from touring, agencies are being forced to reflect on how their companies are structured and seek new opportunities and creative solutions. ILMC head and session chair Greg Parmley asks an all-star panel, what comes next? Guest speakers include Angus Baskerville, (13 Artists) Jules de Lattre (United Talent Agency), Maria May (Creative Artists Agency) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm Talent Agency).


3. The Venue’s Venue: Building Back

For IQ‘s third focus session, John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like. Guest speakers include Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall / National Arena Association – UK), Olivier Toth (Rockhal / European Arena Association – Luxembourg), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions – Germany), Tom Lynch (ASM Global – UK), Lotta Nibell (GOT Event – Sweden).


4. The Innovation Session

While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to virtual performances and meet & greets, 3D venues, gaming and tipping, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Mike Malak, senior agent at Paradigm Talent Agency chairs our fourth IQ Focus session and invites a line-up of free-thinkers and ground-breakers.


5. The State of Independence: Promoters

Across the touring world, independent promoters face similar challenges when looking ahead to business post-Covid-19. While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead? CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?


6. Festival Forum: The Next Stage

We’re midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, and it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021? With a number of Government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return? IQ editor Gordon Masson hosts this discussion with guest speakers including Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool Festival – ES), John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival / Solo Agency – UK), Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive – DE), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania Festival – RO).


7. Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis

One of the hardest-hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?


8. Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Music

Blackout Tuesday brought the industry to a standstill and thrust the topic of diversity in the music business back into view. So just what challenges do black promoters, agents and managers face, and what’s needed to counter systemic racism both within the business, in performance spaces and touring markets? Our next IQ Focus session will ask how changes can be made, and the current momentum can be maintained over the months and years ahead.


9. IQ Focus & The MMF Present: Managing The Crisis

With the bulk of artists dependent on live music revenue and audience connection, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated livelihoods. But what does it mean for their managers – the individuals thrown into salvaging campaigns, rescheduling tours, interpreting contractual changes and navigating the most uncertain of futures? How are their own businesses faring? And what do they see as the challenges – and hopefully opportunities – ahead for the live sector, in what we are all optimistically calling the “new normal”.


10. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid

Staying Safe & Sane During Covid considered how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more. Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation featured Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), MITC founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and the CEO of mental health and wellbeing festival Getahead, Jenni Cochrane.


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Montreux Media head on futureproofing the festival

Music festivals must diversify their business model beyond simply staging events if they are to thrive during periods of crisis, Montreux Media Ventures CEO Nicolas Bonard has told IQ.

Montreux Media Ventures (MMV) – the media and content division of Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival, launched last year – has enabled Montreux to earn some revenue throughout the pandemic, and sustain its partnerships with clients and brands, even as nearly every festival worldwide fell by the wayside, says Bonard.

“I think this is a time when Montreux Media Ventures has really come into its own,” explains Bonard (pictured), who joined Montreux from Vice Media France at the start of 2019.

Bonard says the “genesis of the idea goes back a few years”, when festival bosses started to consider how they could futureproof what was, up until then, solely an “event business”.

“Because the festival is a foundation, we had to create a new entity to drive that event and hospitality business into something closer to a media company,” he explains. “That meant embracing digital and diversifying all our lines of revenue.”

Of course, the official launch of Montreux Media Ventures (MMV) at the tail end of last year – just as Covid-19 took root in China – couldn’t have come at a better time for the festival, which was forced to pull its 2020 edition as the pandemic hit Europe.

“The whole point of MMV is to diversify our sources of revenue so we can mitigate the revenue risk of a festival”

“It was all planned,” jokes Bonard, who describes how the festival has been able to use MMV revenues to soften the financial blow of cancelling Montreux 2020.

“Through some of the incremental revenue we generated through these [MMV] actions, we’ve been able to cushion the impact of Covid,” he explains (albeit not entirely, as it’s “a big hit”).

With MMV, the festival team is able to “leverage the huge audiovisual archive we have and bring those performances back to life”, continues Bonard – a mission exemplified by this month’s Summer of Music, a 16-day virtual festival that draws on performances from Montreux Jazz Festivals across the past five decades.

This takes the form of digital, streamed content (the festival already sold DVDs and vinyl LPs of historic Montreux performances), as well as custom live programming for selected brand partners, such as the Fairmont Hotel Group, for which MMV organised the recent ‘Fairmont World Tour’.

Both of these strands build on the three traditional sources of revenue for Montreux, as well as music festivals more generally: tickets, sponsorship and food and beverage, says Bonard.

He explains: “The whole point [of Montreux Media Ventures] is to diversify our sources of revenue so we can mitigate the revenue risk of a festival, where everything is just focused on those two weeks.”

“Through some of the incremental revenue we generated, we’ve been able to cushion the impact of Covid”

At present, MMV’s digital events, such as Summer of Music, are primarily “about giving back” to the music community rather than trying to turn a profit, says Bonard. (All MMV’s YouTube advertising profits for that event are being donated to the new National Museum of African-American Music in Nashville.)

However, in a few years’ time Bonard expects Media Ventures revenues to represent 25–30% of the group’s overall income, “if not more”, he says, such is the strength of the Montreux brand and archive.

“I don’t think one will replace the other,” he comments. “Because music is so emotional and personal, you’ll always need that physical contact with the artist or band. So, in my view, physical events will continue to reign supreme.”

“The future,” he adds, is in “hybrid” events, with “technology coming in and amplifying the live experience. Digital will come on top of it and augment the show, but nothing can replace that common experience with other fans.”

Future MMV projects include films, documentaries and podcasts, as well as another Fairmont tour when the Covid threat has passed.

“The festival has an incredible asset with these archives,” concludes Bonard, “and this is about amplifying them around the world.”


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Montreux launches virtual Summer of Music festival

Montreux Jazz Festival has announced Summer of Music, a 16-day virtual music festival, to mark what would have been its 54th edition on 3–18 July.

Showcasing iconic Montreux performances from festivals past, including Nina Simone (1976), Etta James (1993) and Carlos Santana (2004), Summer of Music will air exclusively on YouTube on the same dates, with one broadcast a day across the 16-day period.

Other streams scheduled for Summer of Music – an initiative of Montreux Jazz Festival, its subsidiary Montreux Media Ventures, and music film distributor/producer Eagle Rock Entertainment – include several world premieres, including John Lee Hooker (1983) and Charles Bradley (2006).

Mathieu Jaton, CEO of the Swiss festival, comments: “Since its beginnings in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival has been immensely fortunate to have built up, thanks to the visionary spirit of [founder] Claude Nobs, a rich and unique audiovisual archive.

“This heritage has made the festival famous and continues to make it shine through initiatives such as the 54th Summer of Music, made possible through our collaboration with the Claude Nobs Foundation, Eagle Rock and the NMAAM. This summer, this heritage is more essential than ever.”

“This summer, Montreux’s heritage is more essential than ever”

All YouTube ad revenue from the festival will be donated to NMAAM, the National Museum of African American Music, in recognition of how Montreux has been shaped by the contribution of black artists, the festival says. Viewers will also be able to make donations to NMAAM, which is due to open in autumn 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tuwisha Rogers-Simpson, vice-president of brand and partnerships for NMAAM, says: “Montreux is a titan in the popularisation of black music, not just in jazz but across genres, showcasing the wide-ranging impact of black music and black sounds. We look forward to what the Summer of Music event brings to fans and we hope for a continued friendship and partnership”

“Marvin Gaye’s 1980 performance marked the inaugural collaboration between Montreux and Eagle Rock Entertainment; it paved the way for not only an exciting stable of ongoing releases, but also a fantastic line-up of artists at this summer’s virtual Montreux Festival,” adds Geoff Kempin, executive director of Eagle Rock. “We are delighted to be partnering with the Montreux Jazz Festival and YouTube in this summer festival celebrating the diversity of artists that have performed at Montreux.”

Gaye’s 1980 Montreux set will close Summer of Music on Saturday 18 July. Other performers include Rory Gallagher (1979) on 7 July, Deep Purple (2011) on 11 July and the premiere of Tom Misch (2019) on 17 July.


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Festival leaders talk uncertain future in latest IQ Focus session

Representatives from some of Europe’s best-loved festivals took part in the second of IQ’s virtual panel sessions yesterday (14 May), reflecting on the long-term impact of the coronavirus crisis on this important seasonal sector of the industry.

Available to watch back now here, as well as on Facebook and Youtube, the session saw AEG Presents’ Jim King, FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt, Bloodstock Open Air’s Rachael Greenfield, Roskilde Festival’s Anders Wahren and Montreux Jazz festival’s Mathieu Jaton offer their opinions on the biggest challenges facing the festival industry post Covid-19 and the steps the sector must take for recovery.

Although Thanscheidt stated FKP was “planning on having a normal season in 2021”, others did not share his optimism.

For King, the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis will continue to harm the sector until a vaccine is created. “I am severely doubtful that anything is going to take place this year and I’m somewhat doubtful about Q1 next year,” said AEG’s CEO of European Festivals.

The festival supply chain is of particular concern to King, given the number of independent festivals that face collapse due to the current situation.

“These community festivals provide income for freelancers and suppliers of all sizes,” said King, citing a recent Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) report which warns that 92% of its members could be bankrupted by refund requests.

“I think overall the average price for an artist will come down, and I think you’ll see that on touring too”

“If those festivals are impacted, the supply chain will be dramatically affected as well. This has a massive ripple out to the wider industry,” said King. “The impact will be seismic, and that’s an understatement.”

The panel agree that fan confidence had taken “a battering”, and that the coronavirus crisis will lead to fans having less money to spend. As a result, “there’s going to be a correction across costs generally” to account, argued King.

“Artists are going to get paid less because staff and suppliers are going to get paid less – everyone’s going to have to take a big bite of this to protect our relationship with the fan.

“Some [artists] won’t tour if they have to take a cut. But I think overall the average price for an artist will come down, and I think you’ll see that on touring too.”

Beyond the pressure on costs and artist fees, guests referenced the incompatibility of festivals with any form of social distancing measures.

“A festival is all about bringing people together. To institute any form of social distancing… I fail to see how that could work,” said Greenfield, who cancelled the 2020 edition of Bloodstock earlier this month. “To be able to have a good time you can’t separate people – that’s not what a festival is about.”

“A festival is all about bringing people together. To institute any form of social distancing… I fail to see how that could work”

Wahren, head of programming at Roskilde Festival, which was forced to cancel this year due to the Danish government’s summer-long events ban, agreed that “it’s all or nothing”.

“I can’t see us running a festival wearing masks or standing one metre apart.”

For Wahren, alternative forms of live events such as drive-in concerts, although fun, are mere stopgap solutions and “not what we are in this business for”.

Session host and ILMC head Greg Parmley asked each guests for a positive lesson that the last two months had taught them. Unanimously, all spoke of an overwhelming sense of audience loyalty towards their events.

Full festival tickets for Roskilde 2021 sold out in a matter of hours earlier this week, with 85% of ticketholders holding onto their tickets for next year. Thanscheidt cited similar numbers for FKP’s twin festivals, Hurricane and Southside, with 75 to 80% of fans expected to retain their tickets for 2021, and Greenfield put refund requests for Bloodstock at just 8%.

“We also managed to roll over 95% of bands for next year, which surprisingly wasn’t at all difficult,” added the Bloodstock director.

In Germany, parliament is set to pass new laws regarding the refund system in the next few days, said Thanscheidt. The German government is among those to protect corona-hit event organisers by allowing them to offer credit vouchers instead of cash refunds.

“There is a great opportunity for us to reshape the industry, we’ve just got to get to the point to allow ourselves to do so”

And beyond the fans themselves, panellists highlighted the solidarity shown throughout the industry, with many pulling together to support others in need.

However, a more unified approach to tackling the crisis is needed. According to Thanscheidt, “it’s time to team up and start lobbying on a pan-European level.”

For Jaton, the unification should go further still. “The first steps right now are to save the industry in individual countries, but we are an interdependent industry – we are very dependent on the US, so if there is a problem in the US, that’s half our festival gone [talent wise].”

King agreed, saying that, as an industry, “we have still not set out what our key objectives are”.

“Everyone’s thinking very differently about when we recover. We’ve got to put in a longer term plan over multiple cycles and we need to align on how we can collectively come out of this.

“There is a great opportunity for us to reshape the industry, we’ve just got to get to the point to allow ourselves to do so.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, takes place on Thursday 21 May at 3.30 p.m. BST/4.30 p.m. CET, with speakers John Langford (AEG Europe), Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.

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Festival heavyweights join forces for second IQ Focus panel

Following on from last week’s inaugural session, the second IQ Focus virtual panel will feature representatives from some of Europe’s biggest festivals to discuss the huge challenges facing the 2020 season and look ahead to what recovery may entail.

IQ’s next fully interactive session – Festival Forum: Here Comes 21 – will feature Jim King (AEG Presents), Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Rachael Greenfield (Bloodstock Open Air), Anders Wahren (Roskilde Festival) and Mathieu Jaton (Montreux Jazz Festival) in conversation with ILMC MD Greg Parmley.

With much of the 2020 festival season already cancelled and the rest awaiting their fate, the European festival heads will share how they are coping with the shutdown, as well as reflecting on lessons learned from this unprecedented crisis.

Looking to the future, the panellists will also explore what recovery may look like for the vital summer sector in this not-to-be-missed virtual discussion.

The session is taking place on Thursday 14 at 4 p.m. BST/ 5 p.m. CET. Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live. Or, search for the IQ Magazine page on each platform on the day.


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Paléo, MJF cancel, other Swiss fests await guidance

For the first time in 45 and 53 years, respectively, there will be Paléo Festival Nyon or Montreux Jazz Festival this summer, as several Swiss festivals take the decision on whether to cancel into their own hands.

In addition to Paléo (which would have taken place on 20–26 July) and Montreux Jazz (3–18 July), other smaller festivals to have given up on 2020 altogether include Rock the Ring (18–20 June) in Hinwil and Blue Balls Festival (17–25 July) in Lucerne.

The cancellations come as authorities in Switzerland yesterday (16 April) declined to be drawn on whether summer festivals would be allowed to go ahead, putting off the decision until a meeting of the Federal Council on 27 May.

Other major events, such as OpenAir St Gallen (25–28 June), SummerDays and Seaside Festivals (28–29 August), hip-hop festival Openair Frauenfeld (9–11 July) and pop event Zürich Openair (26–29 August), are taking a wait-and-see approach, with OpenAir St Gallen lamenting that the missed opportunity to provide the festival with a “clear decision” about the summer. “We need an order from the Federal Council as a legal basis” for any cancellation, it says in a statement.

According to Paléo, which has yet to announce its 2020 line-up, even in the absence of a formal ban on festivals, it “still couldn’t guarantee the smooth running of the event” amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

“We need an order from the Federal Council”

“Paléo is a temporary city that welcomes some 50,000 people every day. All conditions must be met to start the huge construction work, which relies on a whole chain of service providers, suppliers, artists, sponsors and technical teams,” organisers explain. “It’s highly likely that artists will postpone their tours and that the delivery of key equipment for the festival will be hampered due to the current climate. In view of these elements, maintaining the festival in July 2020 is not possible.”

“This Thursday, 16 April, the Swiss Federal Council announced that it would be gradually easing some of the protective measures against the coronavirus, but keeping the majority of the necessary hygiene and social distancing measures in place,” reads a statement from MJF, which put off its first line-up announcement late last month.”As such, it is now impossible for us to consider holding an event on the scale of Montreux Jazz Festival in July, just as it is for our fellow organisers of other summer festivals in Switzerland and around the world.

“Public health concerns naturally take precedence over all other considerations.”

“This is the first time the festival has had to be cancelled in its 53 years of making history, bringing people together and producing legendary musical moments,” festival organisers add. “Until the very end, all of us here in the festival team were still hoping to share these magical moments with everyone who, like us, cannot imagine a summer without the Montreux Jazz Festival.

“Public health concerns naturally take precedence”

“Our thoughts go out to the staff members, artists and their support teams, technicians and engineers and to all our partners who make the event possible, from local hotels and businesses, to everyone who lives in Montreux, and of course our loyal festivalgoers.”

“It’s a tough break,” adds Paléo. “This postponement will inevitably have heavy financial repercussions for the festival. Indeed, as a non-profit organisation (non-subsidised), Paléo generates close to 80% of its revenue through the sale of tickets, and food and beverage during the event. In this complex context, the organisation is working hard to mitigate the impact of this postponement.”

To help Paléo, says founder and president Daniel Rossellat, fans should keep hold of their tickets until July 2021, when the festival will return.

By not formally extending its ban on mass gatherings, the Swiss government is bucking a trend seen in many of its European neighbours, including Luxembourg (no large events until 31 July), Germany (31 August), Belgium 31 August), France (mid-July), Austria (30 June) and Denmark (31 August).


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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

Flow Festival

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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