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US election: Venues turn into polling stations

Live Nation has announced plans to use more than 100 of its US venues as polling stations for the American presidential election on 3 November.

The concert giant says it is working with local authorities to examine the feasibility of using Live Nation-owned venues across the country as polling centres, with the Wiltern (1,850-cap.) and Hollywood Palladium (3,800-cap.) in Los Angeles, Emo’s (1,700-cap.) in Austin, Texas, and the Buckhead Theatre (1,800-cap.) in Atlanta already confirmed.

The Fillmore (2,500-cap.) in Philadelphia is in the “final stages of the vetting process”, it adds.

“Core to what we do at Live Nation is helping amplify voices on stage around the world, and supporting voting is another important way we want to continue making voices heard,” comments LN CEO Michael Rapino. “We’re honoured to work with such incredible partners and will do everything in our power to support and empower voter engagement among our employees and the public.”

The LN properties join other venues previously announced as serving as polling stations, including multiple arenas

The company has also partnered with More Than a Vote, a non-profit organisation supporting black voters, and announced it will give its employees paid time off to vote.

The Live Nation properties join other venues previously announced as serving as polling stations, including multiple arenas. They include Madison Square Garden in New York, the Los Angeles Forum, State Farm Arena in Atlanta and Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to make mass gatherings difficult, we are excited to partner with New York City’s board of elections,” says Madison Square Garden’s Rich Constable, “and support our community by providing a large-scale venue in the heart of New York City that can accommodate social distancing and serve as a safe place for residents to exercise their right to vote.”

The US presidential election will be held on Tuesday 3 November 2020, pitting incumbent president Donald Trump against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.


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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Slovak pubs to host anti-fascist festival

Nearly 100 bars across Slovakia will next month welcome more than 140 acts for Slovenská krčma (‘Slovak Pubs’), an ‘anti-fascist’ festival organised in protest against growing support for far-right politics.

Beginning on Monday 4 and running until Sunday 16 February, Slovenská krčma will feature domestic stars such as Billy Barman, Para, Rozpor, Vec & Škrupo + Tono, Bez ladu a skladu, Modré Hory and Komajota, as well as emerging acts from a variety of genres.

The venues, meanwhile, include ‘proper’ pubs as well as cafés and clubs, in cities and towns including Bratislava, Hurbanovo, Námestovo, Trebišov and Hostovice, near the north-eastern border.

The latest opinion polling for shows the Direction – Social Democracy (Smer–SD) party with a narrow lead (-6%) over the ultranationalist, anti-gypsy People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) – with many fearing that concerns over corruption could lead to a shock victory for the far right at Slovakia’s next parliamentary elections on 29 February 2020.

“Pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views”

Meanwhile, Smer–SD’s leader, ousted ex-prime minister Robert Fico, is being investigated by police for supporting Milan Mazurek, an LSNS member of parliament fined and expelled for making racist statements, stating that Mazurek’s views reflect those of the average pub-going Slovak. Mazurek had said that “gypsy anti-socials have never done anything for the nation and never will” and compared gypsy (Roma) children to “animals in the zoo”.

In a statement, the event’s organisers, who are also the brains behind the country’s biggest music festival, Pohoda, say: “We believe that most of the pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views. It was people who go to pubs that Robert Fico referred to when he said after Mazurek’s conviction: ‘If the Supreme Court’s verdict is to be a measure of what is a criminal offence regarding statements on Roma, police might as well enter any pub in Slovakia and lock up all the customers, including dogs lying on the ground.’

“We do not agree with the division of citizens into a café society and a pub society. We frequent both and we meet great people in pubs as well as in cafés. To show that Slovakia is not a racist country, we are organising the Slovak Pub festival.”

For more information about the festival, visit the Slovenská krčma website.


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Labour Live: Corbyn follows up Glasto slot with own festival

The Labour party, currently the UK’s official opposition, has announced the launch of a one-day festival this summer to capitalise on the popularity of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour Live 2018, which will take place on Saturday 16 June – the same date as Kili’s Stone Free at The O2 – at White Hart Lane recreation ground in north London, will feature “loads of great bands, speakers from across literature and politics, campaign training, food and drink [and] kids’ entertainment”.

Music will come courtesy of the Magic Numbers, Rae Morris and Jermain Jackman, with senior Labour politicians including Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow international development minister Kate Osamor also confirmed.

“If you’re a Labour supporter looking to meet other supporters, a music buff looking for an affordable summer festival or a family looking for a great day out, we’ve got you covered,” promise organisers.

The launch of the festival follows Corbyn’s appearance at Glastonbury 2017, where he received a rapturous reception for a speech decrying sexism, homophobia, inequality and anti-refugee sentiment.


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Primavera Sound condemns arrests of Catalan leaders

Barcelona festival Primavera Sound has condemned the arrests of more than a dozen Catalan politicians on the orders of the Spanish government, saying it stands “united” with all those who “suffered a violation of their fundamental civil rights” in today’s police action.

The paramilitary Civil Guard this morning raided government offices in Barcelona a bid to halt the planned 1 October vote on independence for Catalonia, detaining 14 officials, including the region’s vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, and seizing computer equipment and nearly 10m ballot papers.

Spain has also announced it is to take back much of the region’s devolved spending powers, in what Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says amounts to the suspension of self-government and the imposition of a “de facto state of emergency”.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy defended the crackdown, saying Spain “had to act”, and that there is “no democratic state in the world that would accept what these people are trying to do” (apparently forgetting there was a state-sanctioned referendum in Scotland almost exactly three years ago).

“We at Primavera Sound condemn any action that prevents the free and full exercise of democratic rights”

“Primavera Sound cannot and does not want to keep quiet about the events that have taken place over the past few days in Catalonia and especially what has taken place today in Barcelona, the city which hosts the festival,” reads a statement from Primavera Sound, issued this afternoon. “This is why we want to publicly manifest our support for all the institutions, bodies and people that in the last few hours have suffered a violation of their fundamental civil rights.

“Aside from ideologies and political inclinations, we at Primavera Sound condemn any action that prevents the free and full exercise of these democratic rights, and we urge all those who feel assaulted to take a serene, civic and peaceful stance in the face this adversity. Today we stand united.”

Football club FC Barcelona has also criticised the police action, saying it is committed to “the defence of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech and to self-determination, [and] condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights”.


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Raise Your Voice: Pre-election Reeperbahn gets political

Reeperbahn Festival has finalised its festival and conference agendas for 2017, announcing the dates, times and venues for all events, as well as a special conference strand – Raise Your Voice – focusing on music and political engagement ahead of the German general election on 24 September.

“Pop is (and always has been) political,” reads a statement from the popular music industry event, which returns to Hamburg from 20 to 23 September. “Bands and artists have addressed important sociopolitical issues in their songs, and since the 1960s pop music has provided the soundtrack, as well as support, for major social transformations.

“Nevertheless, when those in the entertainment world – including musicians and businesses in the music industry – stand up for what they believe in, they are often subject to public criticism. Why that is, and what the music world can do to raise its voice and take a stand without coming across as inauthentic – this is something that will be explored in several panel discussions.”

Said panel discussions include Musik Bewegt – Wie geht Haltung?, in which artists Herbert Grönemeyer (pictured) Ingo Pohlmann and Fetsum will join representatives from Sea Watch, Doctors Without Borders and Viva con Agua to discuss the impact of social and political engagement; and Pop Goes Politics, with Fetsum (who came to Germany as a refugee), Büro für Offensivkultur founder Heinz Ratz and Global Citizen Festival Hamburg organiser Carolin Albrecht, which covers protest and political engagement in the pop world.

Music in the Middle East, meanwhile, will focus on the influence of music in a region afflicted by crises and war, with artists Shahin Najafi and Yasmine Hamdan and Cooking Vinyl/Palestine Music Expo founder Martin Goldschmidt.

All festival and conference events can be found on the Reeperbahn Festival website or the iOS and Android apps.


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Iranian artists demand end to concert cancellations

Members of the music community in Iran have written to the country’s recently reelected president, Hassan Rouhani, to demand an end to the arbitrary cancellation of concerts under pressure from religious conservatives.

According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, since 2013 – when Rouhani was first elected on a platform of a more open, liberal society – numerous popular singers have seen their concerts cancelled at the last minute, with shows by females particularly affected.

Rouhani’s Iran was the most serious violator of artistic freedom in 2016, found a study by Freemuse, with artists frequently sentenced for ‘insulting the sacred’, ‘propaganda against the state’ or ‘spreading depravity’ by religious authorities. “Music has landed in the middle of the battlefield between President Rouhani’s administration and the Supreme Leader [cleric Ali Khamenei] and his religious institutions, where permissions to hold concerts given by the Ministry of Culture are withdrawn by religious authorities,” wrote the organisation.

Artistic freedom under attack in 2016

The Center for Human Rights in Iran, which describes itself as “working to protect and promote human rights in Iran”, says conservative Islamists have  frequently “justified their attacks on musicians by quoting vague statements and decrees by senior religious leaders. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has himself often warned about the alleged dangers of music, saying it will ‘lead people away from the path of God’.”

The most recent cancellation was on 28 July, when singer Shahram Nazeri and his son, Hafez, were told their show in Quchan would no longer go ahead as the venue – a sports venue for local workers – “disrespects the sentiments of […] the people of Quchan” (no further explanation was given).

Just over two months earlier, Rouhani told state-controlled news agency ISNA he supports the music industry, saying his reelection proved “that everyone [in Iran] is at peace with music”.

The most recent appeal to the president was on 2 August, when musicians’ association House of Music wrote to Rouhani asking for his support.

“Are the cancellations of lawful concerts not a clear example of the violation of the rights of musicians?”

“Ever since accepting the heavy responsibility of being a president, you have raised the issue of citizens’ rights and the need for all to enjoy and defend their legitimate rights,” the letter reads. “This has been reassuring and a great source of hope for many, especially in the music industry.

“But the question is: Are the cancellations of lawful concerts not a clear example of the violation of the rights of musicians as citizens? Who is accountable for the trampling of these rights? The government should be transparent in its support for artists by exposing and prosecuting [those] responsible for preventing concerts.”

The House of Music letter follows another petition, signed by more than 500 artists and producers, sent to Rouhani on 31 July, which also asked for a fund to be set up to reimburse musicians who have seen their shows axed.

“Preventing licensed musical performances is clearly breaking the law and an act of sabotage, and the perpetrators must be prosecuted,” said the signatories.


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Oh, Jeremy: Politics goes pop at ‘wokest-ever’ Glasto

If you’re reading this, chances are you already know that last weekend saw 135,000 people descend on Worthy Farm in Somerset for the return of the world’s largest greenfield music event, Glastonbury Festival.

Aside from the big names in contemporary music and performing arts that have, since the early ’80s, been the festival’s trademark, Glastonbury 2017 served up a slate of distinctly political programming – ‘Was this the wokest Glastonbury ever?’, asks The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman; ‘staying woke’ meaning being aware of, or acting on, perceived social injustice – with the buzz around Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn arguably eclipsing that of musical headliners Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Writes Alexis Petridis:

Politicians have been turning up to Glastonbury for years, but this year the leader of the opposition was among the most hotly anticipated attractions: when he arrived on site, his Land Rover was mobbed by fans. In fact, it was hard to escape Corbyn: if Glastonbury 2017 had an unofficial anthem, it was his name sung to the tune of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’.

You heard “oh, Jeremy Corbyn” everywhere: at the silent disco, during Radiohead’s Friday night headlining set, midway through the Other stage appearance by rapper Stormzy, who gamely joined in. When Corbyn finally gave a speech – in a stunning piece of billing that could only happen at Glastonbury, he appeared between hip-hop duo Run the Jewels and Southampton’s foremost R&B loverman Craig David – the crowd brought the entire area around the Pyramid stage to a standstill: in some of its furthest reaches, you occasionally got the sense that some people were eager for him to stop talking so they could get on with the more pressing business of singing “oh, Jeremy Corbyn”.

The BBC’s music reporter, Mark Savage, says the leader of the opposition – who earlier this month denied prime minister Theresa May a parliamentary majority – was, with a few exceptions, “given a rockstar welcome” by the left-leaning Glastonbury crowd, receiving “loud cheers for comments on equality (‘We need to challenge sexism in our society, and homophobia, and any form of discrimination that goes on’) and refugees (‘Let’s support them in their hour of need and not see them as a threat and danger”‘).”

Performers, too, got on board with Corbynmania: Unlike the sombre atmosphere at last year’s event, amid which Britain voted to exit the EU, many artists seemed buoyed by his presence, with Radiohead optimistically predicting a Corbyn premiership (“See you later, Theresa. Just shut the door on your way out”), while spoken-word artist Kate Tempest mocked May’s ‘strong and stable’ slogan by accusing the prime minister of leading the UK “into ruin”.

Satirical candidate Lord Buckethead, meanwhile – who stood against May in her Maidenhead seat on a platform of, among other policies, nationalising Adele –  got a bigger cheer than the band he introduced, Sleaford Mods.

If Glastonbury 2017 had an unofficial anthem, it was Corbyn’s name sung to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’

However, despite the best efforts of Michael Eavis, festival founder and Corbyn supporter, his man doesn’t look any closer to Downing Street: May this morning formed a deal with to stay in power with the backing of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, meaning Eavis’s dream of UK nuclear disarmament is off the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Glastonbury Festival will return in 2019, following a ‘fallow year’ in 2018 to give Worthy Farm a chance to recover. Or, if you’re Daily Star ‘journalist’ Sabrina Dougall, Glastonbury 2018 has been CANCELLED because of a TIDAL WAVE of rubbish:


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For millennials, gigs about ‘more than the music’

Gig-going remains one of the most popular activities for young people in the UK, but 18–34-year-olds are seeing live music for different reasons to the previous generation, new data suggests.

Compared to generation-Xers (35–45-year-olds), millennials (18–34s) have a “stronger moral compass”, according to a new survey by Eventbrite, placing a greater emphasis on events and artists that align with their own beliefs and values.

According to the survey – conducted in partnership with research agency Crowd DNA – nearly half (49%) of millennials have attended a live music event in the past 12 months. However, “unlike gen X,” says Eventbrite, “millennials treat live events as a form of self-expression [and] self-improvement” – with 69% saying they see attending a show as “the best way to show other people what they stand for” (compared to 59% of gen-Xers) and 78% more likely to attend a festival featuring artists who are “affecting positive change through their music” (compared to 69% of gen-Xers).

Additionally, 20% of millennials have in the past year attended an event specifically billed as supporting a particular cause.

“Attending live music events as a form of self-expression is very much a millennial trait”

“Millennials and gen X both attend live music events to escape day-to-day reality and connect with like minded people, but it’s millennials who have a stronger moral compass: three quarters choose music events which align to their own beliefs and values, and 78% attend to express support for the artist’s beliefs and values,” reads the survey, which had a sample audience of British adults aged 18 to 45.

“Attending live music events as a form of self-expression is very much a millennial trait, it was found, and artists who promote positive change are more appealing for millennials.”

The new research follows a similar Eventbrite survey of millennials in the US, which concluded that “the current political climate is driving a deep desire for Americans to connect with each other, their communities and the world, and that they see live events as an incredible way to do that”.

Eventbrite, the world’s largest self-service ticketing platform, acquired Ticketfly from Pandora for US$200m earlier this month.


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Debut Elrow festival axed over “political tension”

Elrow Friends & Family, the much-anticipated inaugural festival by Barcelona-based party promoter Elrow, has been called off amid a spat between two Spanish local authorities.

The festival was announced in April, less than two months after the acquisition of Elrow by James Barton’s Superstruct Entertainment. It was due to take place on 15 July (originally announced as 15–16 July) at a beachfront location in Salou, described by company founder and CEO Juanito Arnau as “the perfect spot to put on the most creative show ever done by the Arnau family in all their long history”.

However, in the months since that location has become less than perfect, with the festival becoming a political football in a war of words between the neighbouring municipalities of Salou and Vila-seca.

While Elrow Friends & Family had the backing of Salou, its tourist board and the CiU–PSC coalition which governs Tarragona, Vila-seca’s mayor, Josep Poblet, and local opposition politicians have been vocal in their opposition to the festival. Poblet called plans to hold the 20,000-capacity event in Salou “a grave error”, while Sandro Boquet, a spokesman for the Republican Left of Catalonia (RLC), said having “15,000 ravers” in Salou will “not bring anything good to the city”.

“We have been advised to cancel the event in order to not contribute any further to the political tension”

According to Spanish media, Boquet added that having another electronic music festival in Salou reminds him of the “bad taste left by Saloufest”, the controversial festival axed in a crackdown on “binge [drinking] tourism” last October.

In a statement, Elrow says it took the decision to cancel to avoid further inflaming political tensions. “We regret to announce the cancellation of our upcoming Friends & Family festival,” it reads. “Due to the recent controversy between local councils, shown publicly in many local newspaper headlines, we have been advised to cancel the event in order to not contribute any further to the political tension.

“Elrow always strives to have a perfect working relationship with the authorities and politicians at our events. Once we arrived at this point, we regrettably have no other choice but to take this decision.”

In its place will be a party at Row 14 – an Elrow-owned club in Barcelona – with the same line-up, including house DJ Adam Beyer, techno heavyweight Richie Hawtin, Glaswegian DJ and label boss Jackmaster and local hero Paco Osuna. Ticketholders can exchange their tickets for the Row 14 event or return them for a refund.


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‘May has “no clear mandate” for “hard Brexit”’

The shock result of yesterday’s general election means British prime minister Theresa May has “no clear mandate” for taking the UK out of the European single market, according to a leading creative-industry trade association.

The Creative Industries Federation, a membership organisation for the music, performing arts, and other creative industries, said in a statement this morning that the result of the election – which saw May’s Conservatives emerge as the largest party but fail to secure a majority of seats – could lead to rethink of Brexit.

“Today’s result raises concerns about the political stability of the UK in the short term,” says Federation chief executive John Kampfner. “One thing is beyond doubt, however: Theresa May has seen that there is no clear mandate for the government to negotiate a hard Brexit.

“Federation members were 96% in favour of remaining in the EU when surveyed before the referendum. They saw Brexit is a threat to the continued success of the creative industries, damaging growth and the UK’s global outlook. This general election vote now offers the opportunity to look at the issue again.

“The Federation will push for the UK to remain in the single market and the customs union and against undue restrictions on free movement, which we know will damage the capacity of the creative industries to deliver.”

“Theresa May has seen that there is no clear mandate for the government to negotiate a hard Brexit”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of recorded-industry body BPI, says the result will force any future Conservative government to adopt a “more nuanced position” in the upcoming negotiations over Britain’s exit from the EU.

“The general election result creates a political landscape that is considerably more complex,” he comments. “Assuming that the Conservatives form an administration, they will be under some parliamentary pressure to adopt a more nuanced position in the Brexit negotiations, which many in business will welcome.

“However, greater uncertainty over an extended period, with the possibility of a further election before the full parliamentary term, is unlikely to be helpful.”

Taylor says whatever the make-up of the next parliament, lawmakers should make the “creative businesses a priority and ensure a Brexit deal that benefits creative businesses like music by making sure that UK artists can tour freely in EU markets and that UK businesses can access the best talent”.

UK Music, the music-industry umbrella organisation that incorporates the UK Live Music Group, issued a more Brexit-neutral statement restating the importance of putting the music industry at the forefront of negotiations.

“Brexit is clearly the biggest issue facing the country … and we will ensure the interests of our members across the music industry are protected”

“UK Music congratulates all those elected at the general election,” says new CEO – and former Labour MP – Michael Dugher. “Clearly, the dust is settling and the situation will continue to unfold in the coming days, so we await developments.

“But over the coming weeks there will be many discussions about the future direction the country will take. It is paramount that the interests of the music industry are fully considered in those conversations and we look forward to engaging positively and working closely with the new parliament and the next government.

“The political parties each made welcome commitments to build on the successes of creative industries, and music in particular, throughout the election campaign. We will be holding their feet to the fire to ensure that they deliver on those pledges. Brexit is clearly the biggest issue facing the country – and our industry – and we will ensure that the interests of our members across the music industry are protected.”

IQ examined the parties’ manifestoes – and any specific policies affecting the live music business – earlier this week.

“One thing we can take comfort from is that the Conservatives and Labour were very specific in their manifesto commitments to ensure content creators are appropriately rewarded”

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum (MMF), says the industry can “take comfort” from the fact that both the Conservatives and the opposition Labour party were “very specific in their manifesto commitments to ensure that content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online”.

In addition to lobbying the new government to “tackle the lack of transparency in the digital marketplace”, such as the perceived ‘value gap’ and lack of fair remuneration for artists from streaming, Coldrick says the organisation will continue its fight against secondary ticketing through the FanFair Alliance.

“Following the successful FanFair campaign, both parties have publicly committed to ensure the revised law on ticket touting is now properly enforced, and we look forward to working with the new government and the Consumer and Markets Authority [which is investigating four ticket resale sites] to make sure this happens. With the help of politicians it is imperative that we fix these fundamentals for both the live and recorded business, restoring the connection from audience to artist, to properly reward the creative talent on whose shoulders our entire business sits.”

At the time of writing, May (pictured) had reportedly struck a deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – which opposes a ‘hard’ Brexit that see Britain exit the single market – to form a coalition government.


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