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Ewald Tatar on “unforeseen challenges” at Nova Rock

Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar has spoken to IQ about the “unforeseen and unpredictable” challenges at this year’s Nova Rock festival in Austria.

The annual hard rock event returned to Nickelsdorf last weekend (9–12 June) and featured acts including Muse, Placebo, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

The sold-out festival saw a total of 225,000 visitors flock to Pannonia Fields, which marked a new attendance record for Nova Rock.

According to Tatar, the festival’s biggest challenge was recovering from “the rain of the century,” which hit the country mere days before the festival was due to open its gates.

“During the 3-4 final days leading up to Nova Rock 2022 it rained more in the region than during the period between November 2021 and the beginning of June 2022 in total,” explains Tatar.

“This was very challenging for the final construction work on the festival site, as the ground, which is a field used for farming the other 11 months of the year, was completely soft and our vehicles got stuck. This was also the case for the festival visitors’ cars and caravans, which slowed down the arrival process and made it very tricky. As soon as it dried up and everyone had arrived, we had perfect festival weather: sunshine and heat!”

Despite the washout, Tatar says everything worked smoothly behind the scenes and both artists and crew were happy to be back on the fields after two years.

“Festivals and big events are what everyone in our team loves and loves being a part of and you could feel this euphoria and great energy during Nova Rock,” he says.

“Most artists mentioned on stage how happy they were to be back performing for huge audiences and you could tell, that the audience shared that feeling too! The atmosphere was incredibly energetic and positive as the area in front of the stage was packed with people dancing and singing along to their favourite bands, who loved playing a big festival again.”

Nova Rock, which is promoted by Nova Music Entertainment (part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music), will return between 7 and 10 June in 2023.

 


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Major festivals enjoy record sell-outs for 2022

Austria’s Nova Rock is the latest festival to report a record sell-out, as the sector embarks on its first full season since 2019.

The event’s promoter, Nova Music Entertainment, says a total of 225,000 visitors are expected to attend the four-day festival in Nickelsdorf this June, which marks a new attendance record.

“We are so happy and proud,” says Nova Music Entertainment, which is part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music.

After two consecutive cancellations, the annual hard rock event will return to Pannonia Fields between 9–12 June with acts including Muse, Placebo, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Rock am Ring recently announced that a record 90,000 weekend tickets had sold for its 2022 edition, while twin festival Rock im Park shifted more than 70,000 tickets.

Both of the eventimpresents/DreamHaus’s events took place last weekend with acts including Green Day, Muse, Volbeat, Placebo, Måneskin.

Elsewhere, events such as Rock Werchter and Rock in Rio have sold out their typical allocation of tickets, but in record time.

“Event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their event trips than even pre-Covid levels”

Around 1 million people registered for the chance to buy tickets to Rock in Rio’s Brazil event, which runs over two weekends from 2–4 and 8–11 September and hosts 100,000 fans per day at the Cidade do Rock.

The 4 September date, starring Justin Bieber, was the fastest sell out at a record 12 minutes, followed by days headlined by Coldplay (27 minutes), Post Malone (59 minutes), Dua Lipa (64 minutes), Green Day (104 minutes) and Guns N’ Roses (285 minutes). The remaining 2 September date, topped by Iron Maiden, has also now sold out.

Rock Werchter, meanwhile, sold out months ahead of when it typically would, with 67,000 combi-tickets and four lots of 21,000 one-day tickets flying off the shelf by the beginning of February.

Elsewhere in LN Belgium’s stable of events, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel was expanded from 50,000 capacity to 52,000 after most tickets sold out in early November.

Top promoters and ticketing firms including DEAG, Dice, Event Genius and The Ticket Factory have all confirmed the pent-up demand for events, saying that current ticket sales are even higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“Such is the demand for events and experiences – both domestically and abroad – event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their domestic and international event trips than even pre-Covid levels,” Event Genius’s CEO Benjamin Leaver told IQ.

Further evidencing a bumper festival season to come, an unprecedented number of new festivals are launching this year.

Promoters including FKP Scorpio, Goodlive, AEG, Goldenvoice and Live Nation have all added to their stable of festivals, as most prepare for their busiest festival season on record.

 


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European live industry stepping up for Ukraine

Live music markets around the world are pitching in to support the citizens of Ukraine, as the Russian military continues its full-scale invasion of the country.

From helping with logistics at borders to finding employment for displaced professionals, the global sector is utilising its unique resources to help those fleeing the conflict.

Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, is spearheading the launch of a pan-European job site that aims to help uprooted Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” she tells IQ.

“I would call it an ideological solution for what Putin is trying to do. He’s trying to destroy a way of life and whatever these people have built and invested in.

“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality”

“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.

The platform, due to launch within the next week, is called ARTery for that very reason. “An artery keeps life going,” she explains. “It keeps the flow of blood and life – and so to say the activity of art – going.”

Michal Kascak from Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest festival, is also involved in the project and the pair are attempting to enlist as many festivals, companies and venues within the industry as possible.

Vulcu hopes that, even after the war, the platform will be used by creatives around the world fleeing from conflict areas or dictatorial regimes – including Russians.

Alongside the launch of ARTery, ARTMania and Pohoda are deploying production staff to help organise logistics at their respective borders.

“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play”

In addition, Pohoda also recently organised a solidarity concert for the people of Ukraine, which became a high-profile event in Slovakia.

“Slovakia’s president Zuzana Čaputová came to the event and made a great speech onstage, which was a surprise for everyone,” Kascak tells IQ.

“I was also positively surprised that public TV called us the evening before and asked to join the concert. Slovenska One, the major channel in Slovakia, broadcast the concert live on TV for three hours nonstop!”

The concert took place last Sunday (27 February) in Bratislava’s Main Square and featured more than 20 acts from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play and bring a message from their country to ours,” says Kascak. “I think it can be a strong gesture and can also help to unite people and to spread the message about what’s going on in Ukraine.”

But it’s not just neighbouring countries that are pitching in to support citizens in Ukraine. In Austria, promoter Barracuda Music has transformed part of Nova Rock‘s festival site into a refugee centre.

Nova Rock Hall, which is typically used as a backstage and hospitality area during the festival, is now equipped to accommodate up to 480 refugees.

“The hall is set up in multiple sections, which are suited for 50 people each and include beds and seating,” Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar explains to IQ. “Electricity, water, heating, light and hygiene and sanitation facilities (toilets, garbage disposal etc.) are all installed to accommodate the refugees.”

“It is important that the international live music industry shows solidarity with Ukraine,” adds Tatar.

Alongside the refugee centre, Nova Rock is also gearing up for a fundraising concert, titled ‘We Stand with Ukraine’.

The charity gig, announced today, is scheduled for 19 March at Ernst Happel-Stadion, Vienna, and donations will benefit people affected by the Ukraine war.

Nova Rock’s event is one of countless fundraisers around the world that have been organised to aid victims of the war.

Romanian promoter ALDA is spearheading two benefit events – We Are One at Bucharest stadium and Dance for Ukraine in Poland. Elsewhere, Brussels-based festivals, nightclubs and events have announced an open-air festival at Atomium.

Poland’s Follow the Step is gearing up to announce “the biggest show in Poland together with television and local artists”. While, across the pond, New York’s City Winery is hosting a benefit featuring Ukrainian-born Eugene Hütz & Gogol Bordello, as well as the likes of Patti Smith.

See a non-exhaustive list of benefit concerts, compiled by Music Export Ukraine, below.

 


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Nova Rock Encore reports one Covid-19 case

Austrian promoter Barracuda says that only one Covid-19 case could be linked to Nova Rock Encore, a one-day pilot event that was organised to demonstrate that live events can safely take place in Austria.

The one-off festival was organised in response to the cancellation of Barracuda’s FM4 Frequency Festival by order of the district administration.

Nova Rock Encore was based on Barracuda’s flagship festival, Nova Rock, which was also cancelled in March this year.

The pilot event took place on 11 September at the Wiener Neustadt stadium (cap. 10,000) and saw 15,000 attendees enjoy performances from Seiler & Speer, Parov Stelar, Bullet For My Valentine, Måneskin and more.

Of the 15,000 attendees, contract tracing attributed just one Covid-19 infection to the festival, according to the organisers.

Two ticketholders reported a positive PCR result in advance of the event and, therefore, did not attend.

“For months we have been working to create perfect prevention concepts and to organise a festival trusted by all sides”

According to data from the festival, the vast majority (86%) of Nova Rock Encore attendees had been vaccinated and 14% were tested in advance. One hundred and eighty visitors opted to get vaccinated at the vaccination bus on the day of the event.

Ewald Tatar, managing director of CTS Eventim-backed Barracuda, said the results were what he expected.

“For months we have been working at full speed, not only to create perfect prevention concepts but also to organise a festival that has been trusted by all sides and which has also become a great success and a guide to the cultural future of our country,” says Tatar.

“Thanks to everyone who collaborated, to the artists, to the experts, the city of Wiener Neustadt with its esteemed mayor, to all the crews and many more. With the Nova Rock Encore, something great was achieved in a very short time and with maximum commitment. One can and must be proud of that,” he concludes.

Nova Rock will return to Pannonia Fields in Nickelsdorf between 9–12 June 2022 with headliners Muse, Foo Fights, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

 


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Barracuda plans new event, Frequency fest cancelled

Baracuda Music is organising a ‘scientifically supported’ one-day festival to demonstrate how live events can take place in Austria, following the cancellation of its FM4 Frequency Festival.

According to the CTS Eventim-owned promoter, the Nova Rock Encore event will “significantly exceed the legal requirements,” by only admitting attendees who are vaccinated or can show a negative PCR test (otherwise known as the 2G rule).

The voluntary implementation of the 2G rule comes after FM4 Frequency Festival was cancelled by order of the district administration, despite compliance with all the requirements issued by the Austrian federal government.

According to a statement on the festival’s website, the city of St. Pölten – where the festival would’ve taken place – decided that outdoor events with more than 1,500 attendees that last longer than one calendar day will be prohibited from 28 July.

The sold-out event, scheduled for 19-21 August, was due to welcome 50,000 per day for an international-heavy bill which included Marshmello, Die Antwoord, Mabel, Sum 41, Martin Garrix, Chase & Status and many more.

“The cancellation of the FM4 Frequency Festival was a big mistake,” wrote the organisers. “Promises made by the minister of health, Wolfgang Mückstein, to the youth were not kept. This in no way has a positive effect on willingness to be vaccinated.”

“Events such as festivals and concerts have a positive effect on the vaccination readiness of the young population”

Currently, in Austria, only 50% of the vaccinable population are fully immunised. “Although there is a sufficient amount of vaccines available, the influx of vaccination centres has been decreasing since the beginning of summer. The number of vaccine sceptics is particularly high among younger people, according to a survey by the Integral Institute,” the organisers continues.

“Events such as festivals and concerts have a positive effect on the vaccination readiness of the young population.”

Christoph Klingler, CEO of CTS Eventim Austria, has now called for “clear and binding rules” to enable organisers to plan accordingly.

“This is the only way to plan live events and at the same time have a positive effect on the vaccination rate of the young population. Safe events for young people are an essential part of the solution and not the problem.”

Nova Rock Encore will take place on 11 September at the Wiener Neustadt stadium (cap. 10,000) with a line-up including Seiler & Speer, Parov Stelar, Bullet For My Valentine, Måneskin, Millencolin, Clawfinger, Jinjer, Russkaja and Fleks.

The festival’s planning team includes public health expert Hans-Peter Hutter and simulation researcher Niki Popper, and has received support from the city of Wiener Neustadt.

Barracuda’s flagship festival Nova Rock (55,000-cap.) was cancelled for a second consecutive year in March.

 


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Nova Rock cancels: Austrian event ban to last until July

Austria’s Nova Rock has been forced to cancel its 16th edition, after chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced no live events would be permitted in the country until July.

The 55,000-capacity hard-rock event, scheduled for 10 to 13 June, was to have been headlined by System of a Down, Volbeat, Foo Fighters and local act Seiler und Speer.

No public events will be allowed in Austria until after the end of June, although Kurz said today (6 April) some shops would be permitted to reopen as early week. Austria acted early to close down businesses, and has consistently had some of the most stringent anti-Covid-19 measured in Europe; it outlawed all gatherings of more than five people as early as 16 March.

Commenting on the extension of the event ban in Austria, promoter Nova Rock Entertainment (part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music) says in a statement: “We, as organisers, are, of course, 100% behind the government’s decision, although we would have preferred this decision earlier.”

“We are 100% behind the government’s decision, although we would have preferred this decision earlier”

“It’s a shame, of course, because we were in the middle of the preparations to make the Nova Rock Festival 2020 an unforgettable experience for you again, but this is a situation that we naturally understand due to the current situation, and fully support,” reads an announcement from festival founder Ewald Tatar and the Nova Rock team. “Health is the most important thing!”

Also cancelled is Stream Festival in Linz, which was due to take place from 28 to 31 May.

Outside Austria, many festivals are still awaiting clarification from national governments as to whether they will be allowed to go ahead.

 


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