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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 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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Montreux Jazz Festival launches worldwide hotel tour

Switzerland’s renowned Montreux Jazz Festival has partnered with luxury hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resort Group to launch the 2020 Fairmont World Tour, a concert series taking place across the group’s 13 global properties.

The tour, which features nu-soul artist Jalen N’Gonda and soul-inspired artist Bobby Bazini, kicks off on 29 January in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before visiting cities in North America, Asia and Europe, ending on 7 March in Montreux, Switzerland.

Both artists form part of the non-profit Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation (MAJF) and performed at Montreux Jazz Festival 2019.

The Fairmont partnership is the first project for the newly created Montreux Media Ventures, which launched in December with the aim of keeping the festival’s spirit alive all year round, creating custom content for corporate clients, labels and brands.

“The Montreux Jazz Festival is proud to bring emerging musical talent to audiences all around the world, in a series of exclusive intimate and enriching experiences,” comments Montreux Jazz CEO Mathieu Jaton.

“The Montreux Jazz Festival is proud to bring emerging musical talent to audiences all around the world, in a series of exclusive intimate and enriching experiences”

“This global musical adventure highlights Fairmont’s hospitality excellence, as well as our shared passion for music and commitment to supporting the next generation of artist.”

A Fairmont representative says the group “is thrilled to scale up its partnership with Montreux Jazz Festival”, following a pilot European tour in 2018, which saw Jalen N’Gonda performing at four Fairmont hotels.

“With these exclusive live music activations in partnership with Montreux Jazz Festival, Fairmont will bring young, raw, next generation musical talent to Fairmont guests and visitors around the world.”

John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Ramones are among famous artists to have performed at Fairmont hotels over the years.

More information on the Fairmont World Tour can be found here.

Montreux 2020 will take place from 3 to 18 July, with headliners including Lionel Richie and Lenny Kravitz. Read IQ’s feature celebrating 50 years of Montreux Jazz Festival here.

Montreux at 50


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Montreux Jazz Festival launches media company

Aiming to “evolve the festival from an annual event […] to an international media company sustainable in itself”, Montreux Jazz Festival has announced the launch of Montreux Media Ventures, which will develop year-round content and events for corporate clients, labels and brands.

The new company, registered in April, will draw upon the festival’s expertise and vast audiovisual catalogue (which includes more than 11,000 hours of live music) to “deliver true 360° music experiences” for its partners, according to Montreux Media Ventures’ CEO, Nicolas Bonard.

“Innovation, both creatively and technologically, will drive our content strategy,” says Bonard, formerly of MTV, Vice Media and the Discovery Channel. “We are collaborating closely with talent, from musicians to star directors, to shoot our live content in a new, creative way with full cinematic production capabilities.

“Our ambition is to go behind the scenes, generate fascinating stories and truly immersive music content, with our audience always at the centre of it all.”

“Innovation, both creatively and technologically, will drive our content strategy”

One of the company’s first projects is a a 13-date world tour with the Fairmont Hotel Group, which will see live performances in hotels in the US, Europe, Asia and Brazil, with content produced “for social media, long-form video and more”.

Montreux Media Ventures is also producing content for the festival, including interviews and backstage footage, as well as its own documentaries, live-streamed concerts, podcasts and vinyl releases.

Mathieu Jaton, CEO of Montreux Jazz Festival, comments: “At Montreux Jazz Festival, the artists are up close and personal with their fans, which encourages unique moments. The festival is a special playground for the artists, who sometimes rethink their concerts just for Montreux. It’s that spirit of intimacy and creative freedom that we want to share through our global content development.”

Montreux 2020, the Swiss festival’s 54th edition, will take place from 3 to 18 July. Read IQ’s feature celebrating 50 years of Montreux Jazz Festival here.

Montreux at 50

 


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Elton gets a stadium upgrade for Montreux shows

The two Elton John shows at this summer’s Montreux Jazz Festival have been combined into a single open-air date, accommodating a further 7,000 fans alongside the massive production of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

Sir Elton, originally scheduled to play two shows at the 4,000-capacity Stravinski Auditorium on 29 and 30 June, will now play to 15,000 people at Montreux’s Saussaz Stadium on the 29th. All tickets for the Stravinski shows remain valid for the new date, although those wishing to receive a refund will be able to do so via email.

Another 7,000 tickets will also go on sale, at the same price of 185 SFr. (standing) or 450 SFr. (seated).

“Elton John will be doing a giant show which draws on a 50-year career,” Montreux festival director Mathieu Jaton tells Swiss daily le Temps, who explains that following the successful debut of the AEG-promoted Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in the US, Sir Elton requested to bring the full stage production to Europe.

“Elton John will be doing a giant show which draws on a 50-year career”

“There were two or three places where we could not fit this gigantic production, including the Stravinsky Auditorium, so we looked for another solution.”

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour kicked off in North America in September, heading to Europe this summer for a string of arena, stadium and festival dates.

The 53rd Montreux Jazz Festival begins on 28 June and runs until 13 July 2019. The full 2019 line-up will be announced on 9 April.

 


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Montreux Jazz heads to Rio next year

Montreux Jazz Festival will expand to a third country next year with the launch of its first Brazilian edition.

Montreux Jazz Festival Rio, provisionally scheduled for March 2017, follows Montreux Jazz Festival Japan in Tokyo – the second edition of which wrapped up last week – as the second international spin-off of the long-running Swiss jazz, rock and pop festival.

Speaking to IQ, festival director Mathieu Jaton says many details – such as the festival’s exact dates, location in Rio de Janeiro and, of course, the artists – are still to be confirmed, but does reveal it will take place across three stages, run over three days and be promoted by longtime Montreux Jazz collaborator Marco Mazzola.

“Japan and Brazil are two countries with which we have had a very strong relationship for many years”

Rio-based Mazzola programmes the Swiss festival’s famous Brazilian night, and Jaton explains the decision to launch a festival in Brazil was motivated by Montreux Jazz’s pre-existing relationship with the Brazilian music scene. “Japan and Brazil are two countries with which we have had a very strong relationship for many years,” he says. “Claude [Nobs, festival founder, from whom Jaton took over following his death in 2013] booked many Brazilian musicians, beginning in the early ’70s – and the Brazilian night at the festival is a real tradition…”

Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Muse and – of course – Deep Purple, who immortalised the 1971 fire at Montreux Casino in their 1972 song ‘Smoke on the Water’, were among the headliners at the 50th Montreux Jazz Festival in June and July.

 


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Montreux announces 50th anniversary line-up

The likes of Muse, PJ Harvey, Neil Young, Quincy Jones and Sigur Rós will help mark the historic 50th anniversary of the Montreux Jazz Festival this summer, as its organisers today announced a stellar programme for the 17-night event.

The 30 June–16 July event will feature a star-studded line-up as Montreux celebrates its golden year, and the promoters have pulled all the stops out to make sure that Deep Purple close proceedings on 16 July, no doubt with their ode to the 1971 fire at Montreux Casino, ‘Smoke on the Water’.

Among the other artists booked for the 50th anniversary edition are Jean-Michel Jarre, Mogwai, Lana Del Rey, Air, ZZ Top, Patti Smith and her band, Slayer, Van Morrison, Simply Red, Jamie Cullum, Santana and many more.

It is Neil Young’s (pictured) second confirmed festival appearance of the year, after Roskilde.

Frank Zappa’s son will open for Deep Purple, who recorded ‘Smoke on the Water’ while watching the Montreux Casino burn as Frank Zappa was playing. It’s a nice way to put the bill together”

Revealing the line-up this morning, Montreux Jazz Festival director Mathieu Jaton noted: “It’s rare for a music festival to turn 50.” He added: “We’re bringing together people close to the DNA and savoir-faire of a festival known for its special creations, this time with a Quincy Jones evening and a Brazilian-African night, but also the young generation like Woodkid, inviting his own guest artists.”

Explaining the ethos of using the billing to create stories, by putting two artists on the same stage in the same night, Jaton added: “The most obvious is closing night with Deep Purple who recorded ‘Smoke on the Water’ while watching the Montreux Casino burn as Frank Zappa was playing. This will be Zappa’s son playing and opening for Deep Purple. It’s a nice way to put the bill together.”

The full programme is available on the festival’s website.