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European trade bodies rally governments for energy aid

European live music trade bodies are lobbying for government-backed support packages to mitigate rocketing energy bills and prevent the sector from collapsing.

Last month, IQ heard from a number of European arenas who say that skyrocketing energy costs are emerging as the sector’s biggest challenge since the Covid-19 pandemic. ASM Global’s Marie Lindqvist said the prices for electricity and gas at the company’s venues have quadrupled since the beginning of the year, with the UK being hit the hardest.

UK live music trade bodies today (21 September) welcomed the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses but have called for further clarification of the details.

The scheme, revealed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industry, will see energy bills for UK businesses cut by around half of their expected level this winter.

The news comes after it was revealed that some UK live music venues are seeing their energy bills increase by an average of 300% –in some cases as much as 740% – adding tens of thousands of pounds to their running costs.

Under the new scheme, wholesale prices are expected to be fixed for all non-domestic energy customers at £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas for six months between 1 October and 31 March 2023.

The support is equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households and applies to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022, as well as to deemed, variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.

UK live music trade bodies today welcomed the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses

This scheme will apply to England, Scotland, and Wales, with a parallel scheme will be established in Northern Ireland, and will be reviewed after three months with an option to extend support for “vulnerable businesses”. However, it is not yet clear whether the live music sector falls into this category.

LIVE CEO Jon Collins welcomes the support but says the government must sustain it past the next six months. “Spiralling energy prices have already forced music venues up and down the country to close or curtail their programming and this will begin again as soon as this support is removed – it is plainly obvious that live music must be on the list of sectors considered ‘vulnerable’ by government.

“With our industry still hurting from the aftereffects of Covid and rising costs across the supply chain, we continue to make the case that our sector needs action on VAT and business rates if we are to keep all concert halls, arenas, festivals, and grassroots music venues open, bringing joy to millions and showcasing the best UK and international talent.”

Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO and founder Mark Davyd has also warmly welcomed the package, saying the scheme “appears at face value to comprehensively tackle the immediate short-term energy crisis for grassroots music venues”.

“We await full details of the scheme and the method of implementation by the energy retailers and suppliers, but the base unit rate of 21.1p per kW/h laid out by these plans is sufficient to avert the collapse of the sector if it is fully delivered,” says Davyd.

“We understand that the government plans to bring forward controls to ensure that this target price is delivered and we look forward to reading their plans to implement this rate as a maximum for all music venues in the UK.”

The scheme “appears at face value to comprehensively tackle the immediate short-term energy crisis for GMVs”

However, MVT is also urging the government to clarify which sectors fall into the “vulnerable businesses” category: “The government has indicated that ‘pubs’ will attract support for longer than the six-month initial period based on the special circumstances of the energy crisis in relation to the operation of their business.

“We have asked for urgent clarification that the broad term ‘pub’ includes music venues and other licensed premises essential to the grassroots music ecosystem, and anticipate that this will be the case.”

The trade bodies have pointed out that further support is needed, in addition to the scheme, in order to stabilise the sector after the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector is calling on the Chancellor to reduce VAT on ticket sales to 5% and reform business rates in the mini-budget expected this Friday (23 September).

Elsewhere in Europe, markets including the Netherlands and Germany are still lobbying for critical support to curb “disastrous” energy costs for live music businesses.

In the Netherlands, the Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors (VSCD) says a large proportion of its 151 members are in danger of getting into financial trouble due to rising energy costs and inflation.

“For many venues, the rise in energy costs is disastrous. The expectation for next year is that we will be seven times more expensive. Even if we sell out every performance, this cost increase is impossible to absorb,” says Mirjam Radstake, director of Theater Hanzehof and Buitensociëteit in Zutphen.

VSCD is calling on the Dutch government to help local authorities subsidise venues’ energy bills

With only 7% of its members receiving some form of compensation to cover the costs, VSCD is calling on the Dutch government to make an extra contribution to the municipal fund so that local authorities can subsidise venues’ energy bills.

The association argues that, currently, subsidies do not reflect venues’ rising costs, which also include a 9.7% rise in rent and a 10% increase in the minimum wage, and that passing these costs onto the public is not an option.

“If we increase the ticket price, the public will drop out,” says Charles Droste, director of Cultuurbedrijf Amphion in Doetinchem.

“At the moment, 25% fewer tickets have been sold with us in September than in September 2019. The public seems to be waiting for rising energy costs and inflation.”

Earlier this week, the Taskforce Creative Culture and Media also sent a letter to the cabinet, containing a general plea to protect the sector against the current inflation and increased energy costs.

Meanwhile, Germany’s live association, the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV), is calling on the federal government to design a special relief programme for the events industry to put forward to the EU Commission.

Germany’s live association is calling on the federal government to design a special relief programme for the events industry

Earlier this year, the EU Commission adopted a Temporary Crisis Framework which enabled member states to be more flexible with State aid rules in order to support the economy during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Under the framework, member states could grant a limited amount of aid to companies affected by the crisis, or by the subsequent sanctions and countersanctions, up to the increased amount of €62,000 and €75,000 in the agriculture and fisheries and aquaculture sectors respectively, and up to €500,000 in all other sectors.

However, in the plan, the EU Commission does not count the events industry among the “systemically important” sectors eligible for aid. BDKV is now asking for a revision to the framework, to allow businesses in the events industry to receive up to €500,000.

“Without state support, there is a risk of the industry collapsing with bankruptcies, operational closures and further migration of skilled workers and the self-employed,” reads a statement from BDKV. “This special programme is needed now and not in the near future when such help is already too late.”

Timo Feuerbach, MD of the European Association of Event Centers (EVVC), says: “The events industry has not yet recovered from the corona-related restrictions of the past few years. The consequences of the war in Ukraine, high inflation and impending bottlenecks in the energy supply are also hitting us hard. Together with the disastrous communication from the federal government on the subject of Corona, which is unsettling customers and is already costing orders, our industry is in danger of being left behind in international competition.”


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Friendly Fire ups Pien Feith to head of booking

Amsterdam-based promoter Friendly Fire has upped Pien Feith to head of its Dutch booking department.

In her new position, Feith will lead the team of Dutch bookers and will therefore be responsible for the entire Dutch booking roster, which includes Kensington, Danny Vera, Yade Lauren, Ilse DeLange, Krezip, Jonna Fraser, Sigourney K and Sophie Straat. She also joins the company’s management team.

“In recent years, Pien has shown that he is not only an extremely good booker with an eye and heart for talent and development, but also has very strong management capabilities and vision,” says director Rense van Kessel.

“Pien has shown that he is not only an extremely good booker, but also has very strong management capabilities”

“We are very happy that she wants to fill this position and that the department can go into the future under her leadership. We are confident she will be a valuable addition to our management team.”

Within Friendly Fire, Feith has been actively developing the careers of Dutch artists for seven years now. Having joined in 2015 as a booking assistant, Feith quickly developed into an independent booking agent.

In that role, she has been responsible for the live careers of, among others, Merol, Personal Trainer, WIES, Sophie Straat, Nana Adjoa, Sef and Roxeanne. Hazes.

In addition to her booking work, Pien is involved in programming for Friendly Fire’s festivals, including Tuckerville, Best Kept Secret and Indian Summer. She will continue to combine her programming and booking work with her new position.


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Lowlands director discusses road to recovery

A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise director Eric van Eerdenburg has told IQ about the festival’s struggle to bounce back after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The annual Dutch festival, which is promoted by Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, returned last weekend (19–21 August) after two consecutive cancellations.

Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, Glass Animals and Arlo Parks were among the 250 musical artists that performed across eleven stages at the Walibi Holland site in Biddinghuizen, central Netherlands.

With a myriad of hurdles to clear after the Covid-19 pandemic, Eerdenburg says the thing he’s most proud of with Lowlands 2022 was “That we managed”.

“The vibe was great – both front and backstage. We had lots of new staff that performed great and more women on gators and with heavy tools. We also had more people of colour than ever in our workforce and audience.”

A shortage of both suppliers and staff – a challenge faced across the festival market this year – were both resolved in the end, the latter after Mojo launched a new platform featuring hundreds of festival jobs.

Though the comeback edition sold out, Eerdenburg says Lowland’s financial recovery from the scrapped 2020 and 2021 editions is “not good enough”, and that the margin on the 2022 edition was “way too low”.

The festival raised its ticket price by €35 to €255 (including fees) for 2022 weekend tickets and Eerdenburg says, reluctantly, the admission fee will have to go up again for 2023.

“I’m worried whether my young audiences can still afford to go to festivals,” he explains. “New fans are essential to artists and newcomer audiences are essential to festivals.”

But profits aside, Lowlands continued its legacy of innovation in 2022. This year saw the festival make a huge leap towards a greener festival, with Mojo and renewable energy producer Solarfields opening the world’s largest solar carport in the site’s car park.

Providing space for 15,000 cars, its 90,000 solar panels produce an annual capacity of 35 MWp of electricity, meaning around 10,000 households can be supplied with green energy – equivalent to the power consumption of roughly 100 Lowlands weekends.

This year, the power is going to the national grid but Eerdenburg expects Lowlands to start using it in 2024 after the infrastructure is up and running.

“It’s a big operational change for a festival of this size,” he says. “Regulations need to be tackled and infrastructure needs to be built.”

In the meantime, Eerdenburg and his team will turn their attention to the next edition, which will return to Biddinghuizen from 18-20 August next year.


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Dutch agencies Earth Beat and Blip join forces

Amsterdam-based booking and artist management agencies Earth Beat and Blip Agency are merging under one umbrella.

Under the name EBB Music, the agencies will bring together their rosters of afro jazz, psychedelic pop and electronic music acts.

The company’s consolidated roster includes Altın Gün, Jambinai, Otoboke Beaver, Ambassade, Gaye Su Akyol, DMX Krew, Daughters of Reykjavik, WaqWaq Kingdom, YĪN YĪN, Romperayo and M I M I.

According to EBB Music, the amalgamation will better serve its artists across Europe, Benelux and the rest of the world.

“EBB Music’s goal is to give non-European artists a chance to build a career in Europe”

Earth Beat was co-founded in 2002 by Jerome Williams who previously worked for ten years as a sound engineer and tour manager.

Having started out as an agency for ‘world music’ in the Benelux countries, Earth Beat gradually expanded into a company with a theatre division (operating in Holland and Belgium until 2013), an international agency and a local promoter in Benelux.

Blip, meanwhile, was founded in 2016 by Jeroen van den Bogert and Ronald Keizer and became a successful agency for ‘cutting-edge and leftfield artists’. Williams, Bogert and Keizer will lead the newly formed EBB Music.


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2022: James Fleury, TicketSwap

The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) last month.

The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster. 

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with Hatice Arici, promoting director/artist agent at Charmenko in Turkey.

The series continues with James Fleury (he/him/his), marketing lead at TicketSwap in the Netherlands.

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career
I think the milestone I’m most proud of is probably establishing my own agency Nouvague, which over time became internationally respected for the way it approached the promotion of classical music in a digital world. I founded Nouvague in 2014 through the Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise Programme, where I received a small amount of funding and a business mentor, and spent five evenings a week including all day Saturday and Sunday managing my friend’s restaurant in South London, in order to fund the early years.

Eight years later, I had notched a portfolio of clients which included some of classical music’s most successful artists, including Grammy Award-winners Joyce DiDonato, Eric Whitacre and Sheku Kanneh-Mason. In 2017, I was invited to give a lecture at the Royal College of Music; I was later informed by the college that I was one of the youngest people ever to lecture at the college. I am particularly proud of both achievements, as I felt that – as a gay, Anglo-Indian man – I held a valued voice in an industry that has been historically dominated by the white elite, and is still reluctant to show progressive change today. You learn so much from starting your own business; how to navigate people, perseverance and the need to constantly find creative solutions to barriers you or your clients are facing. I learned more about myself and my work in those eight years than I ever could have working for a huge corporation.

“My school in South London exiled me from all musical activity on religious grounds, after I came out as gay”

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
In the words of Dory “just keep swimming”. You’re always going to face people who take an obstructive view because they simply do not have the emotional capacity to understand or place a value on your identity. Those qualities are exactly what will set you apart creatively and intellectually from your counterparts, so bottle that up and keep swimming in the direction you want to go, regardless how hard it gets!

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Not going to university. Fun fact; I never wanted to work in music… I wanted to be a war correspondent! It wasn’t really my decision to leave school early, to be honest. Despite the fact that I was a terrible A-level student, the nail in the coffin was when the incoming head of music at my school in South London exiled me from all musical activity on religious grounds, after I came out as gay.

Music was such a huge part of my school life. By eighteen, I’d toured the world as a chorister, performing in some of the world’s most renowned classical venues and cathedrals, so once that door was closed, I instinctively knew I didn’t want to be there anymore. It was a huge blow to my confidence, as I had already chosen the university I wanted to go to, as well as the scholarships and summer programmes I had applied for in the coming years.

In one weekend, I went from having a 4/5 year plan to no direction at all which was pretty confronting. I took a full-time job managing a telemarketing and customer experience department for a television company in London, while at the same time singing for a choir in London. It was then that I recognised just how underserved classical music was with marketing strategists who understood how to build campaigns both online and offline, and that was the moment the seed was planted for Nouvague.

“It’s frustrating to have people treat you differently because you don’t meet their expectations of what a queer person should be”

Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry
The one that to this day I encounter the most is the fact that – to someone else’s definition – you are not gay enough. I can’t even put into words how ridiculous this notion even is. It’s especially frustrating to have people treat you differently because you don’t meet their expectations of what a queer person should be. We are such a rich, diverse community of identities, that to be all ‘queer-washed’ as the same contradicts the very nature of why we became a community in the first place; to celebrate and protect individuality.

One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place?
Well, let’s start by paying people what they’re worth! I saw the recent stats from Women in Control the other day, demonstrating how the gender pay gap is actually increasing. For queer people and those from ethnic backgrounds, this gap is even worse. Let’s start by paying our creators and executives according to their technical skills and more importantly, we need to keep pushing every day inside and outside organisations to achieve full transparency on what music executives are paid. In my eyes, salaries should be public company-wide, but we’re far, far away from that.

A cause you support
The Prince’s Trust. In short, this organisation changed my life. Their programmes positively impact the lives of so many queer and ethnic young people who have been impacted by a range of issues, including homelessness, crime, domestic violence, a lack of confidence or support at home.

“For queer people and those from ethnic backgrounds, [the pay] gap is even worse”

The queer act you’re itching to see live this year
Will Young. His journey through Pop Idol was on national TV at a time when I was just discovering my own sexuality. Witnessing how the media treated him made me hyper-aware of how queer people were viewed in society. To see him still performing to full auditoriums today is a testament to his mental and emotional strength.

Your favourite queer space
Mighty Hoopla! I lost my Hoopla virginity in 2021, and was absolutely gutted to miss it this year due to work. I remember being hyper-anxious the first year – walking to Brockwell Park, talking to my friend Nicky about how the idea of 15,000 queer people in one space was quite an overwhelming and intense concept – but as soon as we arrived, all of those inhibitions evaporated.

Singing along to Gabrielle’s Dreams on top of my mate’s shoulders is core memory vibes! The East Creative gang have done a brilliant job at really developing the festival so it continues to meet the needs and expectations of all faces within our community, both online and offline. As a result, it’s become a highlight fixture in the calendar every year, and I’ll be back at Brockwell Park for the 2023 edition!


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Ziggo Dome partners with GUTS Tickets

The Netherlands’ Ziggo Dome has partnered with blockchain ticketing company GUTS Tickets.

The move, which sees GUTS added to the venue’s preferred ticketing partners, marks the next step in the collaboration between the two Amsterdam-based parties.

Previously, GUTS has handled ticketing for shows by Dutch artists BLØF, Suzan & Freek and Antoon. The firm utilises GET Protocol, a “fraud- and scalping-proof ecosystem”, which allows event organisers to track their tickets, with all transactions being registered with blockchain technology. The result is a ‘smart ticket’, which cannot be duplicated or sold for a price other than that set by the issuer.

“We are immensely proud to take our collaboration with the Ziggo Dome to the next level in this way,” says GUTS Tickets CEO Rempko de Bie. “After working together on several great shows, this step feels like a validation for our system, while at the same time motivating us to push even harder and continue the exponential growth we are experiencing.

“Together we are going to give it our all in order to make the ticketing experience for attendees of the Ziggo Dome easy, honest and even fun.”

“Every day we hear about ticket buyers who have not received their tickets or were forced to pay an outrageous price”

The 17,000-cap Ziggo Dome is set to host upcoming concerts by acts such as The Killers, KISS, Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Arcade Fire, The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar.

“Every day we hear about ticket buyers who have not received their ordered tickets or were forced to pay an outrageous price,” says Ziggo Dome commercial director Danny Damman. “We are also seeing a rise in the number of fans showing up with fake tickets or ones that have already been invalidated. The result of which is that they can’t see the show.

“GUTS Tickets uses innovative technologies such as blockchain to issue honest tickets. These digital tickets prevent unwanted reselling and ticket fraud. That’s why we are happy to share that we have added GUTS tickets to our list of preferred suppliers.”


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ID&T links with electronic music promoter Apenkooi

Superstruct Entertainment’s ID&T has purchased a stake in fellow Dutch electronic music promoter Apenkooi Group.

The strategic partnership with Superstruct and ID&T is designed to accelerate the company’s trajectory, unlocking new opportunities for the group in the areas of brand partnerships activation and events sustainability.

Launched in 2004 with a local party in the Utrecht-based Club Monza, Apenkooi’s portfolio has grown to include brands such as DGTL, STRAF_WERK, Pleinvrees, Amsterdam Open Air and The Gardens of Babylon. It also organises festivals internationally and promotes Elrow events in the Netherlands.

“ Joining a global platform of industry-leading, like-minded entrepreneurs will take Apenkooi to the next level and enable our company to seize the numerous growth opportunities within electronic music events brand partnerships and sustainability,” says Jasper Goossen CEO and co-founder of Apenkooi.

ID&T, which signed a partnership agreement with Superstruct last year, runs events such as Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake.

“We are very happy and proud to welcome so many talented and passionate people to our family. Not only does Apenkooi have an amazing portfolio with brands such as DGTL, STRAF_WERK and Pleinvrees, we also have been partners already in several festivals such as Amsterdam Open Air, Valhalla and By the Creek for many years,” adds ID&T Group CEO Ritty van Straalen.

“In addition to the many popular festivals, their in-house brand partnership agency will also become part of the group. For the ID&T brand partnership team this is a very important step to further expand the partnership portfolio with commercial and qualitative propositions.”


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Pinkpop honours departing founder Jan Smeets

Netherlands’ legendary Pinkpop festival has paid a special tribute to departing founder Jan Smeets in recognition of his 50 years at the helm.

Smeets organised the first edition of Pinkpop at the age of 25 in 1970, and the Landgraaf event is now the longest-running open-air festival in the world, but announced he was stepping back from his role as festival director in 2020, with his team continuing to organise Pinkpop in collaboration with Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts.

But with the event cancelled for the past two years due to pandemic, this year’s edition – held from 17-19 June – provided the first chance for the man known in the Netherlands as ‘Mr Pinkpop’ to bid farewell to the crowd in person.

“The audience waved, cheered and clapped for him after he got on stage, where we first showed footage of Jan from the 1970s to 2019 on the screens,” Pinkpop festival manager Niek Murray tells IQ. “It was a very emotional moment for all of us, but he deserved a proper goodbye.”

“A lot of good people have left the festival world and it will take some time to get back to the level we were before Covid”

Highly regarded both in his homeland and internationally, Smeets is also an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, a longstanding ILMC member, a founder of Yourope (the European Festival Association) and a winner of festival association VNPF’s lifetime achievement award.

While taking a step back for health reasons, he has stated his intention to stay on at Pinkpop in an advisory capacity.

This year’s festival, headlined by Metallica, Pearl Jam and Imagine Dragons, drew two-sold out 70,000-cap crowds for its first two nights and 57,250 for the final day. A total of 44,500 weekend tickets were sale alongside 63,750 day tickets.

With other acts including Twenty One Pilots, Royal Blood, Maneskin, Deftones and Nile Rodgers + Chic, Murray tells IQ it felt “unbelievable” to be back in business following Pinkpop’s two-year hiatus.

“The second day was the hottest in the history of the festival”

“Everybody was so happy to be on site,” he says. “Overall, it went fine. The first day was a bit rusty, but the visitors did not really have any issues with that. There were more cancellations of volunteers and staff than normal, but we managed it.

“A lot of good people have left the festival world and it will take some time to get back to the level we were before Covid. During the build and preparation, some issues with staff shortages at our suppliers caused delays, but we made it and opened everything on time.

“The first day of the festival was hot, the second day was very hot – 35/36 degrees – the hottest day in the history of the festival. We provided a lot of free water taps, more shelters on site and our medical staff worked there asses off, but there were no huge problems.”

Murray also discusses a number of the new features brought in for 2022 including changes to the layout of the site.

“Our North Stage [cap 30,000] was turned 180 degrees and is now facing our South Stage (previously named Mainstage, cap. 70,000]. We also moved our TentStage [10,000] to the previous place of our North Stage and we created more sitting spots and shelters around the Tent Stage.

“We also introduced our Wilhemina Sky Deck, with packages including drinks/food etc, which was a very nice place to watch the concerts on a ‘higher level’.”


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Dutch promoters outline impact of staff shortages

Key promoters in the Netherlands have aired concerns about the industry’s acute staff shortages and its impact on the forthcoming festival summer.

Labour shortages have been a widespread issue in the international live music industry, with many markets reporting a “talent exodus”.

According to Dutch publication 3voor12, concerts in the Netherlands are already being cancelled because there is not enough staff available, festivals are being forced to start building earlier and headliners are toying with the idea of smaller productions.

John Mulder, CEO of Live Nation-owned concert and festival promoter Mojo, says he is “very concerned about this summer. There are huge logistical challenges, both in international touring and at a local level in terms of crews and people.”

The Mojo boss says it is difficult to get staff and crew, and that trucks are “a big problem” this summer.

“There are huge logistical challenges, both in international touring and at a local level”

“There are already acts that have to leave things at home because they can’t get the number of trucks. Instead of 16 trucks, headliners will probably come with less. All those rock ‘n roll trucking companies are running on only 30-40% of their staff and have sold a lot of trucks. There are no new trucks for sale due to the chip problem. But money rules, huh? At some point, of course, acts will make all kinds of crazy jumps to get stuff from A to B.”

Meanwhile, Mojo-promoted festival Pinkpop has been forced to start site construction a month ahead of schedule due to this issue.

“We mainly see problems with suppliers: the tent builders, for example, and the fencing suppliers,” said Pinkpop festival manager Niek Murray. “The pink tent has already been erected on the site because otherwise, it would not work out in the planning. We are already buffering fencing because there was no transporter to deliver it at the normal time.

“In short: three weeks ago we already started building, while we would normally only start next week. If we hadn’t had such a good relationship with the terrain, I don’t know if we would have made it all, but we didn’t have to drastically change things.”

In February, Mojo launched a new platform (www.festivalbanen.nl) featuring hundreds of festival jobs, in a bid to counteract the major staff shortage in the sector.

Many of the employers listed on the website operate at festivals including Lowlands, Pinkpop, NN North Sea Jazz, Down The Rabbit Hole and Woo Hah! x Rolling Loud.


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Dutch live sector report reveals corona impact

A new report on the Dutch live music sector has laid bare the dramatic impact of the Covid crisis on concerts and festivals.

The Netherlands’ touring scene enjoyed a record year in 2019, attracting 2.7 million visitors to events, but that figure plummeted to 328,000 in 2020 – with 94% of that year’s shows pre-dating the spring lockdown – according to the new Monitor Festivals & Concerts study published by Respons and the Association of Event Makers (VVEM).

In addition, the number of festivals fell from more than 1,100 in 2019 to a record low of 155 in 2020, before rebounding slightly to 343 in 2021.

“Festivals and concerts are the big corona losers”

“Festivals and concerts are the big corona losers,” says VVEM spokesperson Willem Westermann. “The figures for 2020 and 2021 are dramatic after the records of previous years.

“We hope that 2022 will be the year of recovery. We have seen that the sector has a lot of creativity, but you just have to experience concerts and festivals live.”

The best-attended concert series of 2020 was Holland sings Hazes, with 49,000 visitors. In 2019, the series reached fifth place in the ranking with 68,000 visitors.

In 2021, Dutch party act the Snollebollekes led the list, playing to 100,000 fans over four nights at the Gelredome in Arnhem. The report also notes that the 2021 Amsterdam Dance Event attracted 350,000 visitors across five days.

The Dutch government finally lifted all remaining Covid restrictions on live events in March this year after tireless lobbying from the sector.


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