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Live Nation partners on New Zealand festival

Live Nation New Zealand has linked up with Dunedin Venues Management and local promoter Common People to launch Fortune Festival.

The 5,000-capacity, multi-stage event will take place at the University Oval cricket ground in Dunedin on Saturday, 2 April.

Headliners Salmonella Dub will be joined by Tiki Taane and Laughton Kora, Teeks, Gin Wigmore and Nadia Reid & Her Band, with further acts to be announced.

“We are absolutely stoked to be bringing an amazing lineup of iconic kiwi musicians to Dunedin,” says festival organiser Jason Schroeder. “We know the city and the wider region have been aching for a new large-scale event and we’re ready to make it happen.”

Dunedin has lost many large-scale events and we saw the need to shine a light at the end of the tunnel

“We have been honoured by the support of our Kiwi musicians who were quick to join the festival,” says Mike Ross of Live Nation. “Like us, our musicians see the potential for an amazing new event in Dunedin that will provide the South entertainment and a large number of visitors who will travel to an event of this calibre.”

General sale tickets are priced NZ$109.90 (€65.80), with a VIP Experience package available at $249.90 (€149.63).

“With Covid wreaking havoc on the live music industry, Dunedin itself has lost many large-scale events and we saw the need to shine a light at the end of the tunnel,” adds Terry Davies, CEO of Dunedin Venues Management. “It has come together amazingly with a truly unique event held on a special ground with a lineup of acts that will bring new energy to the city.”

 


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NZ’s new traffic-light system causes first disruptions

The fate of New Zealand’s upcoming festival season is to be determined by a new traffic-light system, which came into effect last night.

Under the new system, each region in the country has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community, as well as a set of corresponding restrictions.

In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with 1-metre social distancing.

In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality.

Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.

“Getting vaccinated is how we can return to the shows and festivals we love”

Auckland is among a number of regions in the North Island that have been assigned ‘red’. Wellington, Waikato and all of the South Island are among the regions moving to orange. No region starts at green.

The traffic-light system is bad news for Live Nation-owned festival Rhythm and Vines, which was scheduled to take place on New Year’s Eve in Gisborne – currently ‘red’ on the system.

Organisers yesterday announced that, for the first time in the festival’s 19-year history, the event will be rescheduled to 15 April until 17 April 2022.

In a statement, the festival organisers said: “Rhythm and Vines’ mission has [been] and always will be a safe and secure festival for all involved, and [we] believe this decision will allow us to keep delivering the best festival experience that over 400,000 young Kiwis have enjoyed since 2003.

Northern Bass refuses to pull the plug yet, even though the event site in Mangawhai falls under a ‘red’ light

“Rhythm and Vines would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has continued to support this year’s festival including all staff, contractors, artists and suppliers who will have been affected by this decision.

“Getting vaccinated is how we can return to the shows and festivals we love and we encourage everyone to #vaxforlive.”

Elsewhere, New Year’s Eve drum and bass festival Northern Bass refuses to pull the plug yet, even though the event site in Mangawhai has been assigned ‘red’.

The festival organisers say they are crossing their fingers for an orange light status after the next update from the government on 13 December.

“We won’t cancel [yet] – there’s no reason to cancel,” event organiser Gareth Popham told Stuff. “We’ve sold 11,500 tickets and currently have 10,000 kids on a waiting list wanting tickets.”

The sold-out event is set to be headlined by British DJ Andy C and electronic music duo Chase & Status.

Meanwhile, Auckland-born Lorde has postponed her Solar Power Tour until 2023, citing uncertainty around Covid and international touring.

Auckland’s Outerfields festival, originally scheduled for March 6th 2021, has been beset by Covid delays twice and is now tabled for 3 December 2022.

 


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Australia and NZ announce first insurance schemes

After more than 18 months of lobbying, Australia and New Zealand have announced country-first insurance schemes for live music.

In Australia, the Victorian government yesterday (14 November) announced plans to launch a 12-month pilot scheme that will insure up to AUS$230 million (€148m) of events.

Subsidised by the government and delivered by the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), the cover will insure concerts, festivals, sporting events and conferences “against cancellation due to public health measures, or where events have reduced capacity due to restrictions”.

Organisers who have taken out the cover will receive 100% of the event’s declared value if the event has to be cancelled for the aforementioned reasons, or 50% of the event’s declared value if the event goes ahead with reduced capacity (or the organiser chooses to cancel the event because of those capacity restrictions).

The insurance will be available in December 2021 and more information can be found here. The premium is rumoured to cost 2% of the declared value of the event.

“For music lovers, it means your favourite festivals will be up and running again, and you’ll be able to book your tickets with confidence – and for industry, you’ll be protected whether your shows goes ahead or not,” Victoria premier Daniel Andrews wrote on Facebook.

The AFA has called the scheme a “game-changer” for the domestic industry but continues to call for a national solution

The Australian Festival Association (AFA) has called the scheme a “game-changer” for the industry but continues to call on other states and the federal government for a national solution.

“The inability to insure against Covid-related cancellations and restrictions has been a huge barrier to festivals getting back to business,” says AFA MD Julia Robinson.

“Health measures such as restrictions on gatherings and lockdowns, while necessary, often come with little or no notice making it difficult when festivals are months and years in the making. Access to a product that allows organisers the certainty to balance risk and safety with commercial reality would address this market failure, and it’s needed across the country.”

In addition to the scheme, the Victorian government has announced a $20m Live Music Restart package to bolster the recovery of the live music sector.

Music venues will benefit from a $8m programme to recruit and train new staff, invest in CovidSafe infrastructure and get more musicians and industry professionals back to work.

While music festivals and events will receive a leg up with $8m to help them recover from the uncertainty and impact of rescheduled and cancelled events due to the pandemic. A further $4m will bring music performances to the CBD and inner-city, complementing a previously announced $5 million for regional and outer-suburban events.


The support comes after Victoria’s sixth lockdown ended last month, with further restrictions on venue and festival capacity limits set to be scrapped in late November once the state has reached its 90% fully vaccinated target.

According to the AFA, “Victorian audiences usually enjoy over 150 music festivals each year, and just a handful have managed to get their gates open since the pandemic started”.

On 30 October, the state hosted Play On Victoria as its first ‘Covid Safe Test Event’, welcoming 4,000 people back to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to watch Amyl and the Sniffers, Vika and Linda, Baker Boy, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Grace Cummings.

In New Zealand, the government recently announced that it will cover 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000 vaccinated people, if organisers are forced to cancel or postpone due to Covid-19 public health measures.

Eligible events must implement the use of vaccine certificates, take place live and in-person, and have been in the market prior to the announcement of the scheme, according to the government’s criteria.

They will also have to be run by New Zealand organisations and not already be funded by other government sources such as the majors events fund or the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

The NZ government will cover 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000

It will cover “actual direct costs” and organisers will have to agree to honour eligible costs incurred by suppliers.

The scheme will pay out for any events operating under alert level 2 or higher, or under the new traffic light scheme any events in an area under the new ‘red level’, or in a localised lockdown. At least 50% of the tickets will have had to be sold in order to qualify.

The event date must be scheduled to begin between 17 December 2021 and 3 April 2022 and organisers can only apply once for cancellation and once for postponement for an event.

The scheme, which is now live, has been welcomed by promoters of major events such as Rhythm & Vines (scheduled for December 2021) and Electric Avenue (slated for February 2022) but there are calls for smaller events to be included.

Insurance schemes have already been announced in the UK (£800m), Germany (€2.5bn), Austria (€300m), the Netherlands (€300m), Belgium (€60m), Norway (€34m) Denmark (DKK 500m), France and Estonia (€6m).

 


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Six60 to set new stadium record in New Zealand

–New Zealand band Six60 will set a new record for the most amount of NZ stadiums visited during one tour.

The tour will kick off in March 2022, visiting six stadiums including Rotorua International Stadium (cap. 34,000) in Rotorua, Forsyth Barr Stadium (30,700) in Dunedin, Orangetheory Stadium (18,000) in Christchurch and Sky Stadium (34,000) in Wellington.

The 2022 jaunt will also visit Napier’s Mclean Park (19,700), where the band will make history as the first act to play at the sports ground.

The 2022 jaunt will also visit Napier’s Mclean Park, where the band will make history as the first act to play at the ground

The tour will conclude with a concert at Auckland’s Eden Park (50,000), a year after Six60 became the first band to headline the stadium with their sold-out concert in April.

The Eden Park show was also the world’s largest concert since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ahead of next year’s tour, Six60 are encouraging fans to get their jabs to ensure they don’t miss out on next year’s dates, as vaccine passports will be mandatory for anyone in the country wanting to attend live music events.

The introduction of vaccine passports has divided the country’s live music industry, with some promoters insisting certification will be the key to summer festivals and others warning it’ll create a ‘two-tier’ society.

 


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NZ government funds drug checks at live music events

New Zealand’s government has put NZD 800,000 (€494,000) towards recreational drug checks at festivals and concerts.

While pill testing in the country has operated to some extent for years, the Labour government only legalised operations in December 2020 to allow for pill testing at last year’s summer festivals.

However, due to a lack of funding, the country’s main provider of drug testing services wasn’t able to operate at most major events.

NZ’s health minister says the new funding will be used to train more drug-checkers and establish national coordination of pill testing services.

“This is not about condoning drug use, but about keeping people safe,” health minister Andrew Little said in a statement.

“There is clear evidence that having drug-checking services at festivals changes behaviour and reduces harm.”

The National Party’s justice spokesman, Simon Bridges, says it’s a “slippery” move towards decriminalisation “by stealth” but the Green Party supports the funding.

“This is not about condoning drug use, but about keeping people safe”

A study from Victoria University, released in February, argued the presence of Know Your Stuff at festivals reduced drug use.

The study found 68% of people either disposed of their drugs or changed their consumption habits after checking the drugs at the Know Your Stuff tent.

“Festival organisers who invited Know Your Stuff to their events noted fewer serious incidents related to illicit drug use and emphasised the importance,” says associate professor of criminology Fiona Hutton.

In neighbouring Australia, the live music industry has long been lobbying for pill testing at music festivalswhich has been successfully trialled twice in 2018 and 2019.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of the Australian public are in favour of pill testing at music festivals, recent national data shows.

The UK government has also been urged to support drug testing at festivals in order to increase the safety of festivalgoers.

 


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Quarantine issues put end to NZ’s biggest 2022 festival

The organisers of Bay Dreams are cancelling both summer dates due to difficulty securing quarantine spots for international acts.

The festival was set to be the biggest of the year, with an event in Nelson (cap. 13,000) on 3 January and an event in Tauranga (cap. 30,000) on 6 January.

The line-up was announced when NZ was operating a trans-Tasman travel bubble and included acts such as Australians Tash Sultana and Tones and I, as well as European electronic artists Chase & Status and Netsky.

“As it stands, there is much uncertainty around the trans-Tasman bubble and quarantine spaces are extremely difficult to obtain,” wrote promoter Audiology Touring in a statement. “A queue of 30,000+ people are trying to gain access to a few thousand rooms.”

“A queue of 30,000+ people are trying to gain access to a few thousand rooms”

“At a time like this we have two choices: we either promote something that is unlikely to proceed, or we shift into an event that we can confidently bring to life for you.”

In lieu of the flagship events, Audiology will be hosting two alternative events in the same cities on the same dates, with the few international acts that have secured quarantine places. Netsky, Hybrid Minds, Friction and Koven have been confirmed so far.

Refunds for Bay Dreams are underway and the new sales will go on show next Wednesday (20 October).

Audiology says it’s working on securing more rooms every week and will add more acts in a second announcement when isolation places have been secured.

 


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TEG joins forces with Laneway Festival

Laneway Festival, the much-loved Australasian touring festival, has joined the TEG family.

Laneway, in full St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, was founded in 2005 as a Melbourne street party and has grown into a respected festival of domestic and international music, with events in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (currently Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle and Auckland). Past performers include Billie Eilish, Lorde, Haim, Denzel Curry, Run the Jewels, Tame Impala and Flume.

In total, Laneway events deliver more than 85 hours of contemporary live music to over 100,000 fans annually. The company also has a touring arm, Laneway Presents, which has co-promoted the festival, as well as a number of tours, with Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment.

It is believed Sydney-based TEG has acquired a majority in stake in Laneway Festival, with founders Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers staying on as co-managing directors and “substantial owners”.

“We have enormous respect for Laneway, which has grown from a Melbourne street party into a world-class festival and with a strong touring arm, consistently breaking new local and international artists to the youth market in the region,” says TEG CEO Geoff Jones.

“The festival started in a tiny alley in Melbourne in 2005 and has grown to become an institution in Australia, NZ and Singapore”

“Laneway will continue to operate as it always has, with founders Jerome and Danny and their team working closely with TEG Live managing director Tim McGregor as they continue to innovate and plan for the 2022 Laneway Festival. Watch this space.”

The acquisition is TEG’s second of 2021, following February’s takeover of Australian promoter Handsome Tours.

In a joint statement, Borazio and Rogers say: “Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who has helped to make Laneway what it is today. The festival started in a tiny alley in Melbourne in 2005 and has grown to become an institution in Australia, NZ and Singapore, thanks to the hard work and passion of some of the most genuine and talented music lovers in the country. We are endlessly thankful for and humbled by their contribution.

“To the fans and artists: we are super determined to get Laneway Festival back on the circuit ASAP, delivering you the amazing line-ups and experiences that you’ve grown accustomed to. And, of course, we want to thank Michael Chugg and his incredible teams, past and present. The festival would not exist today without his, and their vision, passion and support.

“Finally, to the current team working on the festival: thank you for your ongoing patience throughout this challenging period for our industry. With our new partnership with TEG we’ll be able to navigate these next few years knowing we have a team who shares the festival’s long-term vision.”

 


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Womad NZ secures $1.9 million underwrite

Womad New Zealand has secured a NZ$1.9 million (US$1.3m) underwrite from New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) in case the festival is cancelled due to Covid-19.

The news comes after NPDC last week announced it had renewed its host city deal for the New Zealand edition of the international arts festival, for another five years.

Following a meeting on Tuesday (25 May), the council has now agreed to eliminate the financial risk posed by a potential Covid-19 outbreak for the organiser by underwriting the festival.

While numerous countries have announced government-backed insurance schemes for live events, it’s a rare occurrence for one to be singled out for a safety net.

Mayor Neil Holdom, a long-time Womad supporter, had urged councillors to agree the underwrite, but warned them that, in doing so, they were effectively writing a cheque.

“The probability [of cancellation] I think is very low and the benefits very large”

Councillor Richard Handley added: “What’s the probability [of the festival being called off]? The probability I think is very low and the benefits very large. And we all know the benefits. Womad is a part of our DNA.”

Womad NZ typically brings more than 11,000 visitors to the Taranaki region each year and pumps $6 million into the local economy, according to the festival.

This year’s festival, which would’ve taken place in March, was cancelled due to Covid-19, but less than 24 hours after securing the underwrite the organisers have announced plans for the 2022 edition.

The festival will return to its home of 18 years, New Plymouth’s Brooklands Park, between 18 and 20 March 2022 with a programme spanning music, arts and dance.

Womad International director Chris Smith says they were intending to deliver an international line-up, along with a raft of new ideas and developments to celebrate the festival’s return.

Womad NZ typically pumps $6 million into the local economy

“2021 was such a difficult year around the world, but this partnership agreement has been central to the decision to bring the festival back in 2022,” says Smith.

“Womad means so much to the people of New Plymouth who welcome our artists into their community and the festival brings a significant investment into the regional economy – We simply can’t wait to be back here in March.”

Womad NZ will continue to be produced by Taft (Taranaki Arts Festival Trust) which has presented the festival in New Plymouth since 2003.

“Over the last 30 years, Taft has proven that we have the expertise to deliver world-class festivals and events that have positioned Taranaki as a tourist destination, boosted the local economy, and ensured that our people access arts and cultural experiences outside of the metropolitan areas,” says CEO of Taft, Suzanne Porter.

“Taft is incredibly grateful for the surety that NPDC has provided, ensuring that Womad NZ can still call the beautiful Bowl of Brooklands, Taranaki, its home here in New Zealand. We are delighted to be partnering with Womad International once again.”

Womad also takes place in Wiltshire, UK; Cáceres and Gran Canaria, Spain; Adelaide, Australia and Recoleta, Chile.

 


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Australia-NZ bubble to ‘revitalise’ touring

Australia and New Zealand have welcomed the announcement of a trans-Tasman bubble which will allow artists to travel between the two nations without having to quarantine from 19 April.

Live Nation New Zealand managing director Mark Kneebone​ told Stuff that the promoter has already booked four of five tours for Australian acts over the next month, which are yet to be announced.

“We’ve been lucky to have so many performers in [New Zealand] to be able to fill stages and sell tickets,” Kneebone said. “At this point, however, audiences do want some variety. And while New Zealand acts will continue to perform and do really well, the chance to bring over Australian acts and bands is great for the industry,” he said.

Lucy Macrae, a music publicist and owner of Auckland venue Whammy, told Stuff: “We are now starting to experience some touring fatigue with our local artists. Having a bubble open up between countries will revitalise live music.”

Since October, New Zealand travellers have been allowed to enter most Australian states without quarantine but this had not been reciprocated.

“At this point, however, audiences do want some variety…the chance to bring over Australian acts is great for the industry”

Brent Eccles of promoter Eccles Entertainment, told IQ back in February that without the trans-Tasman bubble, NZ’s relatively small live industry was having to recycle the same acts.

“New Zealand’s limited talent pool has already been used – to great effect – but venues throughout the country are struggling to fill their many vacant diary dates,” he said.

From 19 April, New Zealand will bring in “green zone” conditions similar to those that its citizens face entering Australia.

Passengers travelling to New Zealand will be required to have spent the 14 days before the flight in Australia only.

Those with cold or flu symptoms will not be allowed to travel, and all passengers must wear masks and give details to New Zealand authorities of where they will be staying.

Australia has recorded 909 deaths since the pandemic began, while New Zealand has reported 25.

Read about the opportunities and challenges New Zealand’s post-pandemic bubble has presented its live industry here.

 


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Six60 to play world’s largest concert since Covid

New Zealand band Six60 are set to play the world’s largest concert since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to 50,000 people next month.

The band will be the first act to play New Zealand’s largest stadium, Eden Park (50,000-capacity) in Auckland, on 24 April as part of their Six60 Saturdays tour.

In February this year, it was announced that the famous sporting stadium could host up to six concerts a year, following a five-day hearing in November in which residents’ concerns about potential noise and disruption were addressed.

Six60 were an active voice in the campaign to bring concerts to Eden Park and frontman Matiu Walters said in a statement: “It’s no secret that Six60 have wanted to play Eden Park for some time now. We always felt that it was important a kiwi band should play the first show at our national stadium.

“We always felt that it was important a kiwi band should play the first show at our national stadium”

“Because of the hard work that New Zealand has done as a community we’re in the privileged position to be able to perform to an audience of this size. It’s a great reward, we’re stoked that it’s become a reality and it’s a real honour to bring our show to the garden of Eden. We can’t wait.”

The Eden Park concert will be the seventh date of Six60 Saturdays, which is the only stadium tour in the world to go ahead during the pandemic so far.

In January, the band delivered the biggest headline show in New Zealand since the pandemic began to an estimated 20,000 people at Waitangi Sports Grounds in Paihia.

The tour has also made stops in Hastings, New Plymouth, Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton.

 


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