Live Nation, Roskilde and more plan test project
A number of major players in Denmark’s live music industry are organising a test project to gather knowledge and evidence on how major events can take place safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The partners behind the project include Live Nation Denmark, Dansk Live (Denmark’s live music association) and major Danish festivals such as Roskilde, NorthSide, Tinderbox and Smukfest, as well as organisations outside of the sector.
The project, dubbed Safe 2.0, will take place in late summer and autumn with an aim to find out:
- How spectators’ health data can be safely and smoothly handled.
- The quality of the rapid test and its ability to limit the spread of infection.
- The most effective way to detect infection at major events.
- How to efficiently and safely execute larger events.
All attendees were required to show proof of a negative antigen test in order to gain entry to the 3F Superliga competitions, organised by the Divisional Association.
“The hope was initially that we could secure knowledge that could ensure a faster reopening for the benefit of festivals”
Organisers say Safe 2.0 will implement Denmark’s vaccine passport (Coronapas) as soon as it becomes available in autumn.
“Safe was originally developed together with the Divisional Association in the autumn of 2020, but we are now at version 2.0 of the project, where the focus is on cultural activities,” says Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher.
“The hope was initially that we could secure knowledge that could ensure a faster reopening for the benefit of festivals and venues. Even if it did not succeed, we are happy to be able to start the project now and secure knowledge that can prove crucial in the future.”
Safe 2.0 comes too late for the raft of festivals that were called off in May due to government restrictions.
Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May) were cancelled this year.
Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) were also called off.
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Danish festival giants join forces for comeback event
Live Nation has teamed up with nine of Denmark’s biggest festivals – Roskilde Festival, NorthSide, Heartland, Copenhell, Smukfest, Tinderbox, Jelling Musikfestival, Nibe Festival and Grøn – for a one-off event that will mark the reopening of the country.
‘Back to Live’ will take place at Refshaleøen, a former industrial site in the harbour of Copenhagen, on Saturday 4 September – days after the country’s current Covid-19 restrictions are due to be lifted, allowing large events to take place.
According to the organisers, the concert will also serve as an opportunity for the festivals involved to “gain experience and collect empirical data on Covid initiatives” in relation to organising large live events.
“Two years without festivals have been hard for the entire music industry and both the audience, artists and organisers need to feel the community,” reads a statement from the organisers.
“The crisis has also strengthened the dialogue and cooperation between the festivals”
“At the same time, the crisis has also strengthened the dialogue and cooperation between the festivals and revealed a pronounced need to focus on the importance of live concerts and their significance for community and unity in society.”
The one-day outdoor concert will kick off at 2:00 pm (CET), hosting performances from “some of Denmark’s biggest names in rock and hip hop” including Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Dad, Suspekt, Tessa and more to be announced.
Tickets for Back to Live are on sale now for DKK 545 (€73).
Currently, in Denmark, 10,000 people are allowed at “public events”, thanks to the country’s Covid-19 ‘passport’, Coronapas, which certifies that the bearer has either tested negative for the coronavirus or is immune/vaccinated.
The government recently clarified the restrictions from August onwards but the news came too late for Denmark’s major music festivals, which cancelled en masse last month citing a lack of information.
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Denmark’s festival season wiped out due to restrictions
Denmark’s festival season has been decimated for the second consecutive year after the government announced that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.
The announcement came last night (3 May) and was followed this morning by a raft of festival cancellations including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May).
Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) have also been called off.
The government’s reopening agreement states that 2,000-capacity events are permitted, provided attendees are divided into sections with a maximum of 200 people in each.
“It is a day of mourning”
After 1 August, the capacity limit will be raised to 5,000 with sections of up to 500 attendees. Events with 10,000 attendees will not take place until it is ‘assessed as sound from a health point of view’.
The agreement comes after the government’s expert advisory group warned that festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, which cast serious doubt over the viability of Denmark’s 2021 festival season.
The organisers of Roskilde, which typically gathers 130,000 people each year, say its enforced cancellation is not surprising.
“We are devastated by the fact that we can’t get together at our festival and contribute to recreating the communities that the corona crisis has destroyed for so many,” says a statement on the festival’s website.
“The cancellation is very serious for the festival, for the charity society behind it and for our community. And it is serious for the artistic environments and the growth segments of culture.”
“We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already”
Esben Marcher, head of Danish live music association Dansk Live, dubbed the government’s plan an “over-cautious reopening that does not leave much hope for the festivals”. “It’s a day of mourning,” he added.
Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, believes that government acted hastily: “We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already, as we believe that it is too early to make such decisive decisions on the basis of conjecture about what the situation will look like in three months’ time and what can and cannot be done at that time.”
The reopening agreement has effectively rendered Denmark’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net redundant for the organisers of festivals and major events.
Announced in March, the safety net was designed to cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants, taking place between 1 May and 30 September 2021, in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.
No answers for festivals in Denmark’s reopening plan
Festival organisers in Denmark are still in the dark about whether their events will be able to take place this summer after the government published a reopening plan which fails to provide concrete answers about large events.
While the phased reopening plan marks 6 May as the day that live music should be able to return to indoor venues, there’s no such detail for festival organisers.
In the plan, the government has simply said it will set up a ‘fast-working expert group’ which will co-operate with the relevant authorities to deliver suggestions on how major gatherings and events can be held, by mid-April.
The organisers of major festivals in Denmark, Roskilde Festival and Smukfest, told DR that, while the government has not explicitly given festivals a green light in the reopening plan, they will assume their events can still go ahead until told otherwise.
“Although it does not say anything about the possibility of large events, we can not see it as anything other than an expression that there is still a belief that it is possible to hold a festival this summer,” says Roskilde Festival’s CEO, Signe Lopdrup. “If not, I assume we would have been told it would not be possible. So we will continue the planning with renewed intensity – otherwise, time simply runs away from us.”
Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, also told DR: “We are disappointed that we are not mentioned in the reopening agreement, but that means that we can not do anything other than what we have been asked. And that is to continue our planning work.”
“We will continue the planning with renewed intensity – otherwise, time simply runs away from us”
Eskildsen has called for festivals to be involved in the so-called ‘fast-working expert group’ – which he says should’ve happened months ago.
Conversely, the Danish government has already assembled a ‘restart team’, including Roskilde Group as well as Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, which recently submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors. The catalogue was submitted to the ministry of culture for approval.
The government also announced a DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net, intended to allow organisers to plan for the summer, but Eskildsen says festivals need to know ‘the exact conditions for how we can continue our planning responsibly’.
According to the Smukfest rep, festivals are expecting a final decision on this year’s festival season around two weeks from now but Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher believes that it will come too late for many organisers.
“The first festivals are at the end of May, and it takes five to seven weeks to build a festival on a full scale. And hopefully one should not end up getting ready for a festival, which will then be cancelled. It’s all, all too late, unfortunately. We just have to say that,” says Marcher.
“I still believe that there can easily be festivals. It can just end up in a situation where the festivals are so challenged in planning time and staffing of volunteers that it becomes very difficult to make it a success.”
Denmark’s restart team submits recommendations
Denmark’s ‘restart team’ has submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors to the ministry of culture for government approval.
The ten-person team, which was assembled by the government in autumn 2020, has met with more than 80 key stakeholders across the two sectors to determine how the government should allocate the 50 million DKK it previously earmarked for the restart.
The restart team has made the following recommendations for the government:
- Form an advisory expert group composed of members of the culture and sports, which will maintain dialogue between the sector, authorities and the government, and assist in the preparation of a fact-based long-term and differentiated opening plan.
- Launch a nationwide campaign effort, immediately after reopening of the entire cultural and sports life, to celebrate the restart of the sectors. The team has recommended that the government arranges a nationwide festival, and sets aside 2m DKK, for this purpose.
- Back the implementation of SAFE (SARSCoV-2 Antigen testing of Fans before Events in Denmark), which is a large-scale study of Covid-19 antigen testing of the public prior to matches in the 3F Superliga. This is costed at 5m DKK.
- Create an ‘innovation laboratory’, bolstered by 6m DKK, which will develop new digital formats, technologies and initiatives for parts of each sector that have difficulty reopening ie crowd management solutions for live music events.
- Collect data to understand citizens’ concerns, considerations and motivations in relation to cultural and sports life in the wake of Covid-19 and make the information publicly available so the sectors can make informed choices of how to restart. Half a million has been suggested for this recommendation.
- Set aside 36.5m DKK for the development and testing of new formats for culture and sports, which will enable a safe return.
“It is crucial that we get as much momentum as possible in culture and sports under the conditions we live in right now”
The team has also made a number of recommendations that require a longer-term effort and/or funding that is outside the allocated 50m DKK.
The team – which includes Esben Marcher (Dansk Live), Signe Lopdrup (Roskilde Festival Group) and Sara Indrio (Danish Artist Association) from the music sector – has outlined the financial loss event organisers have experienced due to the pandemic, and the risks that lie ahead with the reopening.
The team has recommended the following solutions:
• Compensation schemes and other support that must ensure that organisers in culture and sports can receive financial coverage for losses during a reopening.
• Risk capital, possibly in the form of a loss guarantee or government-backed insurance for organisers in case they are forced to cancel their events.
• Ongoing compensation for those who have to wait longer to open.
Joy Mogensen, Denmark’s minister for culture, says: “It is crucial that we get as much momentum as possible in culture and sports under the conditions we live in right now.”
Dansk Live’s Marcher says: “We have gone for broad, embracing proposals that can benefit all actors, which of course means that recommendations are not necessarily directly aimed at live organisers. However, I think it is positive that the SAFE project on testing quick tests is included in recommendations, just as it is positive that there is a focus on pushing for innovation in culture and sports.”
Roskilde Festival Group’s Lopdrup, who is deputy chairman of the restart team, says: “Cultural and sports life has been hit hard by closure and restrictions. In our work, we have encountered a sector that, on the one hand, fights hard for survival and, on the other hand, does everything possible to come up with proposals for solutions and the development of formats that can pave the way for those cultures and sports experiences we all lack so much.
“Our recommendations certainly do not solve all the challenges, but I hope they can help inspire and open up new opportunities for the players and thus pave the way for the reopening of cultural and sports life, so we can meet about the community-creating experiences again.”
IQ Focus: The Top 10 sessions so far
Since launching IQ Focus, a weekly series of livestreamed panels that debuted in May, we’ve been inviting heavyweights from the international live music business to discuss issues ranging from the trials and tribulations of a pandemic to the systemic racism brought to light by Blackout Tuesday, and everything in between.
But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The Innovation Session, for example, heard panellists discuss the flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas that have come out of the coronavirus crisis. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid presented expert opinions on how to protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists. What all these sessions have had in common is a sense of optimism, opportunity and determination, as our industry forges ahead into the unknown.
This week we’re taking some time off from IQ Focus, but in the meantime, please enjoy our top ten sessions from the past couple of months and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications about future IQ Focus sessions.
Hosted by ILMC head Greg Parmley, a panel comprising Europe’s festival elite discuss the collapse of this year’s festival season, as well as predictions for the next. Jim King (AEG Presents), Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Rachael Greenfield (Bloodstock Open Air), Anders Wahren (Roskilde Festival) and Mathieu Jaton (Montreux Jazz Festival) update us on how they’re coping in unprecedented circumstances; what lessons have been learned, which challenges have been faced and crucially, what the road to recovery looks like.
The Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges for both multinational agencies and boutique outfits. From juggling investors to dealing with a hiatus from touring, agencies are being forced to reflect on how their companies are structured and seek new opportunities and creative solutions. ILMC head and session chair Greg Parmley asks an all-star panel, what comes next? Guest speakers include Angus Baskerville, (13 Artists) Jules de Lattre (United Talent Agency), Maria May (Creative Artists Agency) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm Talent Agency).
For IQ‘s third focus session, John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like. Guest speakers include Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall / National Arena Association – UK), Olivier Toth (Rockhal / European Arena Association – Luxembourg), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions – Germany), Tom Lynch (ASM Global – UK), Lotta Nibell (GOT Event – Sweden).
While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to virtual performances and meet & greets, 3D venues, gaming and tipping, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Mike Malak, senior agent at Paradigm Talent Agency chairs our fourth IQ Focus session and invites a line-up of free-thinkers and ground-breakers.
Across the touring world, independent promoters face similar challenges when looking ahead to business post-Covid-19. While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead? CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?
We’re midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, and it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021? With a number of Government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return? IQ editor Gordon Masson hosts this discussion with guest speakers including Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool Festival – ES), John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival / Solo Agency – UK), Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive – DE), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania Festival – RO).
One of the hardest-hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?
Blackout Tuesday brought the industry to a standstill and thrust the topic of diversity in the music business back into view. So just what challenges do black promoters, agents and managers face, and what’s needed to counter systemic racism both within the business, in performance spaces and touring markets? Our next IQ Focus session will ask how changes can be made, and the current momentum can be maintained over the months and years ahead.
With the bulk of artists dependent on live music revenue and audience connection, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated livelihoods. But what does it mean for their managers – the individuals thrown into salvaging campaigns, rescheduling tours, interpreting contractual changes and navigating the most uncertain of futures? How are their own businesses faring? And what do they see as the challenges – and hopefully opportunities – ahead for the live sector, in what we are all optimistically calling the “new normal”.
Staying Safe & Sane During Covid considered how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more. Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation featured Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), MITC founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and the CEO of mental health and wellbeing festival Getahead, Jenni Cochrane.
Green Guardians: Staffing and Personnel
The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly iniative highlighting some of the work being done around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.
The inaugural list features 60 entries across ten categories, selected by the Green Guardians committes, which includes representatives from some of the sector’s most respected bodies, such as A Greener Festival, Go Group, Green Music Initiative, Julie’s Bicycle and Vision:2025.
Following on from last week’s feature on artists and activists doing their bit to make the world a cleaner and better place, this edition of Green Guardians looks at those pioneering ethical and sustainable staffing and personnel practices.
Staffing and personnel
My Cause UK
My Cause has provided more than 6,000 proactive front-line volunteers to the UK’s biggest events such as Boomtown, Boardmasters, Bestival, Download Festival, Noisily, NASS, Love Saves The Day, Lovebox and many more.
My Cause offers event organisers an ethical and sustainable alternative to existing staffing providers by channelling its fees to the charities its volunteers nominate. That provides My Cause with a switched on, engaged and reliable team to represent client events in the best possible way. So far, it has donated almost £150,000 to more than 1,000 charities chosen by its volunteers.
My Cause director Rob Wilkinson notes, “When you are looking to book crew, volunteers, or staff from any supplier don’t just look at your bottom line but ask about what they do to care for and support their team. Well briefed, motivated and well cared for staff on your front line will bring your green credentials to life better than any sign or page in a programme ever could.”
“Well briefed staff on your front line will bring your green credentials to life better than any sign or page in a programme ever could”
Roskilde Festival is a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation whose aim is to make a difference and have a positive effect on its surroundings; to support initiatives benefitting children and young people; and to support humanitarian and cultural work.
Festival volunteers participate year round in the decision-making, planning and troubleshooting processes, and in the recruitment and management of other volunteers.
The volunteer community is motivated by teamwork and a sense of all being in it together, and due to actively participating in the development of the festival. This has an impact on volunteers signing up and participating for the first time.
Roskilde’s core management team supports the organisation by providing leadership training (also developed and run by volunteers) and by providing tools for supporting feedback processes, allowing volunteers’ voices to be heard regarding the many ideas they have on how to improve processes and co-operation.
Roskilde Festival is a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation whose aim is to make a difference and have a positive effect on its surroundings
Greenpeace was actually founded with a concert in Canada, in 1970, when James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and the late Phil Ochs performed a benefit gig to pay for the fuel that allowed a Greenpeace ship to sail into a nuclear testing zone.
Glastonbury was the first major festival that Greenpeace attended, in 1992. Many concerts and festivals have followed and continue to play a major part in helping the organisation to raise awareness of its international work.
The majority of its event volunteers come from the network of local Greenpeace groups, but it also advertises on its social media platforms where potential volunteers complete a questionnaire and Greenpeace asks for another person to vouch for them.
In terms of sustainability, Greenpeace endeavours to lead by example, calling out areas where improvements can be made. Festivals give Greenpeace access to an audience that it can inform and entertain, allowing it to communicate vital messages such as: “Don’t count the cost; DO IT! As otherwise it’s costing the Earth.”
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 90, or subscribe to the magazine here
Record sell-out for Primavera Sound 2021
The 2021 edition of Primavera Sound Barcelona has sold out of all full festival tickets and day tickets in just ten days.
The Barcelona event joins Denmark’s Roskilde Festival to report a quick sell-out for next year. Only 15% of the 80,000 festival tickets sold for Roskilde 2020 were returned for a cash refund, rather than retained for 2021, and were resold in a matter of hours. The remaining 5,000 Roskilde day tickets will go on sale in autumn 2020.
Primavera Sound, which was forced to cancelled its 2020 edition despite rescheduling from June to August, released tickets for its 2021 event on 3 June, the same day it revealed the first line-up details for next year’s festival.
“[Fans] have shown that there is hope for massive live music events and have decided that their passion for music is stronger than the fear of uncertainty”
Organisers have since gone on to confirm many more acts, with many acts from the 2020 billing, including Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Tyler the Creator, the Strokes and the National reconfirmed for 2021, as well as new additions such as Gorillaz and Tame Impala.
The Primavera Sound team thanks “the vast majority” of 2020 ticketholders who kept hold of their tickets for 2021, as well as the new buyers, “who have shown that there is hope for massive live music events and have decided that their passion for music is stronger than the fear of uncertainty”.
The team adds that the sell-out, which was done in record time, would not have ben possible without commitment from artists, and work from sponsors, collaborators and partners.
Primavera Sound 2021 will take place form 2 to 6 June at Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona.
Roskilde Festival 2020 goes ‘DIY’
On Saturday 4 July, on what would have been the final day of Roskilde Festival 2020, the Danish event is encouraging fans across the world to create their own festival at home.
For ‘Roskilde Festival – Do it Yourself’, festival organiser Roskilde Festival Charity Society is calling on participants to “pitch a tent in their living room, play beer bowling in the backyard, create the perfect playlist, be inspired or provoked by art” and share their experience online, “just like we all share experiences at the festival every year.”
As with the main Roskilde Festival, tickets and merchandise will available to buy for Do it Yourself, with all profits donated to initiatives for young people and that strengthen community cohesion. The nonprofit festival – which was cancelled this year along with all other Danish summer events – raised hundreds of thousands of euros with its 2019 edition, and has donated over €55 million since the early ’70s.
Roskilde Festival will be sharing the best fan-created content from Do it Yourself on its social channels.
“Unfortunately, we cannot meet up at the festival site this year. Fortunately, the festival community thrives in so many other ways,” says Roskilde spokesperson Christina Bilde.
“We hope that many people will come together and enjoy music, food, art and the Roskilde community”
“In recent months, we have seen tremendous support, and many people have announced that they plan to celebrate the festival. It is absolutely fundamental to us that we can be a platform for such communities.
“So, we hope that many people will come together and enjoy music, food, art and the Roskilde community while supporting young people’s voices and opportunities.”
Those participating in Roskilde Festival – Do it Yourself are encouraged to buy a ticket for 50 kr. (€6.50) – or, for those who can’t do without this year’s Roskilde wristband, festival wristbands are available for a donation of 200 kr. (€27).
In the weeks leading up to the event, those taking part will be able to draw inspiration from Roskilde Festival’s many guides to music, food, art and activism “so that all the self-made festivals will have a common orange glow”, says the festival (orange being Roskilde’s signature colour)/
Find out more about Roskilde Festival – Do It Yourself at roskil.de/diy.
Festival leaders talk uncertain future in latest IQ Focus session
Representatives from some of Europe’s best-loved festivals took part in the second of IQ’s virtual panel sessions yesterday (14 May), reflecting on the long-term impact of the coronavirus crisis on this important seasonal sector of the industry.
Available to watch back now here, as well as on Facebook and Youtube, the session saw AEG Presents’ Jim King, FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt, Bloodstock Open Air’s Rachael Greenfield, Roskilde Festival’s Anders Wahren and Montreux Jazz festival’s Mathieu Jaton offer their opinions on the biggest challenges facing the festival industry post Covid-19 and the steps the sector must take for recovery.
Although Thanscheidt stated FKP was “planning on having a normal season in 2021”, others did not share his optimism.
For King, the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis will continue to harm the sector until a vaccine is created. “I am severely doubtful that anything is going to take place this year and I’m somewhat doubtful about Q1 next year,” said AEG’s CEO of European Festivals.
The festival supply chain is of particular concern to King, given the number of independent festivals that face collapse due to the current situation.
“These community festivals provide income for freelancers and suppliers of all sizes,” said King, citing a recent Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) report which warns that 92% of its members could be bankrupted by refund requests.
“I think overall the average price for an artist will come down, and I think you’ll see that on touring too”
“If those festivals are impacted, the supply chain will be dramatically affected as well. This has a massive ripple out to the wider industry,” said King. “The impact will be seismic, and that’s an understatement.”
The panel agree that fan confidence had taken “a battering”, and that the coronavirus crisis will lead to fans having less money to spend. As a result, “there’s going to be a correction across costs generally” to account, argued King.
“Artists are going to get paid less because staff and suppliers are going to get paid less – everyone’s going to have to take a big bite of this to protect our relationship with the fan.
“Some [artists] won’t tour if they have to take a cut. But I think overall the average price for an artist will come down, and I think you’ll see that on touring too.”
Beyond the pressure on costs and artist fees, guests referenced the incompatibility of festivals with any form of social distancing measures.
“A festival is all about bringing people together. To institute any form of social distancing… I fail to see how that could work,” said Greenfield, who cancelled the 2020 edition of Bloodstock earlier this month. “To be able to have a good time you can’t separate people – that’s not what a festival is about.”
“A festival is all about bringing people together. To institute any form of social distancing… I fail to see how that could work”
Wahren, head of programming at Roskilde Festival, which was forced to cancel this year due to the Danish government’s summer-long events ban, agreed that “it’s all or nothing”.
“I can’t see us running a festival wearing masks or standing one metre apart.”
For Wahren, alternative forms of live events such as drive-in concerts, although fun, are mere stopgap solutions and “not what we are in this business for”.
Session host and ILMC head Greg Parmley asked each guests for a positive lesson that the last two months had taught them. Unanimously, all spoke of an overwhelming sense of audience loyalty towards their events.
Full festival tickets for Roskilde 2021 sold out in a matter of hours earlier this week, with 85% of ticketholders holding onto their tickets for next year. Thanscheidt cited similar numbers for FKP’s twin festivals, Hurricane and Southside, with 75 to 80% of fans expected to retain their tickets for 2021, and Greenfield put refund requests for Bloodstock at just 8%.
“We also managed to roll over 95% of bands for next year, which surprisingly wasn’t at all difficult,” added the Bloodstock director.
In Germany, parliament is set to pass new laws regarding the refund system in the next few days, said Thanscheidt. The German government is among those to protect corona-hit event organisers by allowing them to offer credit vouchers instead of cash refunds.
“There is a great opportunity for us to reshape the industry, we’ve just got to get to the point to allow ourselves to do so”
And beyond the fans themselves, panellists highlighted the solidarity shown throughout the industry, with many pulling together to support others in need.
However, a more unified approach to tackling the crisis is needed. According to Thanscheidt, “it’s time to team up and start lobbying on a pan-European level.”
For Jaton, the unification should go further still. “The first steps right now are to save the industry in individual countries, but we are an interdependent industry – we are very dependent on the US, so if there is a problem in the US, that’s half our festival gone [talent wise].”
King agreed, saying that, as an industry, “we have still not set out what our key objectives are”.
“Everyone’s thinking very differently about when we recover. We’ve got to put in a longer term plan over multiple cycles and we need to align on how we can collectively come out of this.
“There is a great opportunity for us to reshape the industry, we’ve just got to get to the point to allow ourselves to do so.”
The next IQ Focus session, The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, takes place on Thursday 21 May at 3.30 p.m. BST/4.30 p.m. CET, with speakers John Langford (AEG Europe), Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).