fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Festival chiefs preview the upcoming season

The cost of living crisis, an oversaturated market and rising costs threaten to create a “recipe for disaster” for the first full festival season since 2019, it has been claimed.

ILMC’s Festival Forum: New lands, new adventures panel heard divergent views from event bosses on prospects for this summer, with the public’s appetite for returning to music shows evident, but two years of lockdown and restrictions throwing up a litany of new problems.

UTA agent Beth Morton moderated the illuminating debate starring Eric van Eerdenburg of Mojo Concerts (NL), Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts (UK), Sophie Lobl of C3 Presents (US), Henrik Bondo Nielsen of Roskilde Festival (DK), Stephan Thanscheidt of FKP Scorpio (DE) and Reshad Hossenally of Festicket’s Event Genius ticketing and event technology platform.

Event Genius COO Hossenally said that, despite the anticipated rush for concert tickets after two lost years to Covid-19, other issues were cropping up.

“People don’t trust that everything is back to normal yet”

“There are a hell of a lot of shows and it’s almost a bit of a recipe for disaster because you’ve got costs going up, a lot of tickets being carried across and a huge amount of competition,” he said. “The other part is people are being told they don’t have any money in the press. I think you’ll see the buying pattern starting to become a lot later. People don’t trust that everything is back to normal yet.

“We ran a global survey and 75% of people said that they want to understand what the cancellation policies are. Before, that would have been an impulse buy – people didn’t even look at terms and conditions beforehand. The decision of buying a festival ticket now is a lot more considered. So as a festival promoter, I suspect it must be quite a scary road to see that we’re not selling as quickly.”

Roskilde head of safety and service Bondo Nielsen referenced complaints from some of his European contemporaries regarding fan behaviour since the restart, with the pandemic resulting in a lag in younger consumers attending their first festival.

“What I hear is that people talk about inexperienced audience and that they are not behaving well,” he said. “My view is that, as a festival organiser, it’s your job to manage the audience that you invite. So if they don’t behave well, you have to teach them.”

“Costs are going up at least 25% from 2019 prices”

Ellis, who heads up events such as Scotland’s Transmt, responded: “You’ve got gig veterans, and then you always get new people coming in – 16 to 17-year-olds coming along for the first time – and I think they get carried along and looked after by the older members of the audience a bit. It is a real community spirit that you get, no matter what the festival is. They’re all there for the same purpose: to enjoy music, and the shared experience of being at an event.”

Ellis considered increasing costs, exacerbated by supply chain and staffing issues, as the biggest challenge for festivals going forward.

“Certainly in the UK, costs are going up at least 25% from 2019 prices, which is really difficult,” he said. “And it’s the scarcity of kit as well, so stages, barriers – we’re having to beg, borrow and steal barriers from different arenas, because there are so many shows on. There are shows that have moved from 2020, and didn’t happen in ’21, all happening, plus the festivals, plus the outdoor business that would have taken place in ’22.

“Also, staff – lots of stewards left the industry during the pandemic. Toilets, again, lots of sporting events are taking certainly the high end toilets, maybe not the actual portaloos but the flushable toilets and trailers, so that’s a real challenge.”

“People have hung on to their tickets for a couple of years, you can’t go back to them and ask for more money”

The promoter added that simply hiking up ticket prices was not an option for this year.

“People have hung on to their tickets for a couple of years, you can’t go back to them and ask for more money,” he said. “And we’re going into a cost of living crisis globally, with people having concerns about how they’re going to pay their energy bills and everything else. So some of it will have to be passed on going forward, but it’s too late for this year.

“I think we all have to try our best to get costs down and look at innovative ways of delivering things as well. We need suppliers to give us a bit of a break really.

“The positive thing is there was a recent survey in America showing what people are looking forward to getting back to most, and concerts was top of the list, so that’s reassuring. Obviously we’re all worried about how they’re going to afford to do it, but at least they want to go to concerts.”

“There are so many artists, coming out of Covid, that haven’t done a hard ticket tour”

The conversation later switched to social media’s influence on programming and its correlation to ticket sales.

“There is so much that we have to take into account that’s not just ticket sales,” revealed C3 and Live Nation global festival talent buyer Lobl. “Obviously socials, obviously TikTok, but the show we’re booking kind of determines what we look at.”

She continued: “There are so many artists, coming out of Covid, that haven’t done a hard ticket tour. If you take someone like Doja Cat, who has been one of our biggest artists at all of our festivals, and probably had the biggest crowd at Austin City Limits and in South America, hasn’t done her own hard ticket run yet.

“It’s also a lot more global now, which makes it more fun. But it also makes it a lot harder to navigate. For us, the Latin market has been huge and there’s a lot more global booking of really sizeable bands.”

“We have also analysing tools for social media,” noted FKP head of festival booking Thanscheidt. “You also have to do look at where are the likes and plays are coming from because if they’re coming from another part of the world, it’s nice for the band, but maybe not for us putting on a festival or a show with them. Also, not every Tiktok hype translates to the festivals we book.

“In general, you don’t want to go away from the history of the festival. But you also want to keep it modern and fresh and cool at the same time. In the end, booking is a process. It is, of course, influenced by other things nowadays, but it’s still a mixture of very different facts coming together.

“It also really depends on the festival – because if you have an older audience, TikTok and all that does not play the biggest role and vice-versa, so you have to look at it very individually to make the right decisions. You have to know your market and  your audiences because sometimes it’s hard to explain, especially to agents, why this act is working and the other one is not.”

“It’s not an exact science and it never has been”

Van Eerdenberg, director of Netherlands’ Lowlands festival, shared his own booking philosophy.

“We had discussions in our programming team about this, and we ended up saying quality is not the thing we measure, but whether people are reacting and responding to it,” he said. “You have to work with what you see happening online. But it’s difficult to determine the value of an act, especially when agents are very convincing.”

Ellis pointed out that hard ticket sales were not always a barometer of an artist’s value to a festival because their audience might steer away from outdoor shows.

“It’s not an exact science and it never has been,” he added. “It’s always been a bit of gut feel, a bit of scarcity – if somebody’s not doing shows they’re more valuable to a festival than if they are doing shows because there’s a pent up demand to see them.

“Over the years at T in the Park, an act like Tom Jones went down an absolute storm. His audience wouldn’t have particularly come to a music festival, but… we had 50,000 people in front of the main stage, singing along to him, and none of them had ever seen him before. With that kind of booking, if you tried to look at the TikTok figures, it wouldn’t have synced. There was a gut feel that it would go down well, and it went down well, but sometimes we get those things wrong and nobody’s watching the act.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

The New Bosses 2019: Sophie Lobl, C3 Presents

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the September edition of IQ Magazine.

All interviews have now been reproduced in full online and on IQ Index, but this is not the last you will hear from these promising young execs. The New Bosses will play a key role in the forthcoming edition of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March. 

The final new boss is Sophie Lobl (28), global festival buyer at C3 Presents in Texas. Born in London, Lobl made her way to the United States after graduating from Leeds University in the UK. Starting her career at BBC Radio 1, she later went to WME, where she worked her way up from a receptionist to assisting Russell Warby, Ari Emanuel and, finally, Marc Geiger in the LA office.

In 2019, Lobl relocated to Texas to work for C3 in the newly created role of global festival buyer, where she works closely with the European Live Nation team on artist offers for 197 festivals worldwide. (Read the previous interview with United Talent Agency’s Sara Schoch here).

 


What are you busy with right now?
Booking festivals for 2020. We are in the middle of booking all the line ups for next year and about to announce the Austin City Limits schedule!

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Pretty much. I actually initially wanted to work in radio. I produced and presented a couple of shows on my student radio station in Leeds which led me into working as an assistant producer at Radio 1 and 1Xtra – I thought I was going to be Annie Mac! Then I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Working on Tom Petty’s last tour is one of the greatest memories I’ll ever have. He was a lovely man. Launching Lollapalooza Stockholm is also a true career highlight. We’re very excited for 2020, it looks like we’ll have a great line up.

“I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that”

How has your role changed since you started out?
It’s changed drastically. I went from working on reception and making coffee, to being (several) agents’ assistants, to now booking and managing my own multi-stage festivals. None of it was planned, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. C3 is an awesome company and I am incredibly excited about the projects I get to work on and also about some of the new projects we have in the pipeline.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at C3?
That’s a big question. I think never being afraid of trying something new is the main one. Launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting. Luckily, we have incredible partners on our international festivals that save us from losing our jobs.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I think just more inclusiveness generally across the board. It really is getting better and there are now far more opportunities for women and other minorities. But that shouldn’t even really be a thing, should it? C3 actually has a majority of women employees, especially in senior management positions. I think other companies are following suit.

“Never being afraid of trying something new is important – launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting”

What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my French Bulldog. His name is Francis. You should follow him on Instagram (@francislefrenchie).

Do you have an industry mentor?
[Live Nation vice president fo European Touring] Kelly Chappell has been my mentor, saviour and sister since the beginning of time. She really is the best. I don’t know anyone that works harder or that has such an incredible attention to detail as she has. She is so knowledgeable and wise and deserves all the recognition I can give her.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Work your bum off. None of this is easy and, although it may look glamorous, it really isn’t sometimes. But the hard work pays off and it really is worth it.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Sitting at home with ten french bulldogs? Probably doing exactly what I’m doing now. Maybe just a little better. C3 & S doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it?

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

The New Bosses: Meet the class of 2019

The latest edition of IQ’s New Bosses goes live today, celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.

The New Bosses 2019 – the 12th outing for IQ’s annual list of  future live music industry leaders, as decided by their peers – is the biggest to date, with no fewer than a dozen promoters, bookers, agents and other young execs making the cut:

IQ’s 2019 New Bosses will be automatically shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s New Boss award at the Arthur Awards at ILMC in March 2020, voting for which opens in November. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience to have won the Tomorrow’s New Boss award this year,” says ICM Partners agent Kevin Jergenson, who picked up his award at ILMC 31.

Full interviews with all the New Bosses 2019 will appear online in the coming weeks

“As an award that is voted on solely by my peers within the industry, it means a great deal to know that the passion and time I have put into this job and industry has been noticed and well received. I truly am blessed to be working with so many amazing people and artists within such an incredible industry. Congrats and good luck to all of this year’s New Bosses!”

Short profiles of, and brief interviews with, all 2019 New Bosses are featured in the latest issue of IQ Magazine, which can be read in the digital issue embedded below. These individual profiles use heavily edited versions of the full interviews, which will appear online in the coming weeks.

These promising emerging execs will also play a key role in forthcoming editions of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March.

Read on, then, to learn more about this year’s roster of young, talented professionals who are shaping the future of our business…


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.