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Japan: Fuji Rock’s virtual event, Supersonic finally cancelled

Promoter Creativeman Productions has finally called off this year’s Summer Sonic festival, meaning neither of Japan’s big two outdoor music festivals will take place this year.

Summer Sonic – which became a ‘new’ event, Supersonic, for 2020, with the main festival taking a year off to accomodate the planned Tokyo Olympics – can no longer go ahead because of new restrictions on foreigners entering Japan from 1 September, following a spike in new Covid-19 cases.

The 1975, Liam Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Post Malone and Black Eyed Peas were among artists booked to play Supersonic 2020, which would taken place 19–21 September in Tokyo and 19–20 September in Osaka.

All tickets for Supersonic 2020, which has been postponed a year, will be valid for Supersonic 2021, with full refunds also available.

Both Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic are staging virtual editions of their 2020 events

In a statement, Creativeman president Naoki Shimizu offers his “sincere gratitude to all of you who believed in us” and promises “fireworks” when the festival returns next year. “I cannot wait for the day when we can once again watch artists perform their wonderful songs live to the world,” he comments.

Smash Corporation’s Fuji Rock, meanwhile – originally scheduled for 21–23 August – is this year taking place as a virtual event featuring a stream of archival footage from past festivals.

Fans can watch the live stream on Fuji Rock’s YouTube channel, or in the YouTube Music app, from 21 to 23 August. Performances will include Beastie Boys, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, FKA Twigs, James Blake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sia, the XX and Vince Staples.

Summer Sonic 2020 will also take place as an online festival, streamed on YouTube, featuring BTS (2015), Metallica (2013), Arctic Monkeys (2014) and more.

 


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Biggest-ever IFF 2019 sells out

The fifth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF) has sold out in advance of the 24 to 26 September event, with 800 delegates attending from 40 markets, 40 agency showcases and a keynote interview with Rock Werchter’s Herman Schueremans.

The invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents takes place in Camden, North London. This year’s edition has doubled the amount of networking space around the main venue, Dingwalls, and introduced pop-up agency offices on both days.

“We’ve grown a bit again this year, so have had to pay off a few market stall holders to make room,” says ILMC MD and IFF co-founder Greg Parmley. “Looking back over the last five years we’ve been very lucky – not just with the weather, but fortunate to have had tremendous support from our agency partners, many who’ve backed IFF since year one.”

Partner agencies on IFF include 13 Artists, ATC Live, CAA, ITB, Paradigm, Primary, Solo, WME, UTA and X-ray Touring. Artists confirmed to perform during the various agency showcases include Squid, Sports Team, Life, Happyness, Chinchilla, Niklas Paschburg, Easy Life and multi-platinum-selling rockers the Darkness.

“We’ve grown a bit again this year, so have had to pay off a few market stall holders to make room”

Conference topics at IFF 5 include festival billing, consolidation, competition from new market entrants, gender splits on line-ups, and niche events, while the IFF Keynote interview is Rock Werchter founder and Live Nation Belgium head Herman Schueremans.

With IFF reaching a milestone fifth edition, amongst the various dinners and events is a joint birthday party on Thursday 26 September with European metal festival behemoth Wacken Open Air (30 this year), and Japan’s Summer Sonic (20 this year).

Other new elements at the event include Knowledge and Green Hubs featuring innovative suppliers and sustainability experts, while hosted speed meetings and a delegate portal return for the third year, supported by the Department of International Trade.

Full event information is online at www.iff.rocks.

 


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Record attendance marks Summer Sonic’s 20th year

Creativeman’s Summer Sonic overtook Smash Corp-promoted Fuji Rock to become Japan’s biggest outdoor music festival this year, welcoming 135,000 visitors over three days to its twin sites in Osaka and Tokyo.

Taking place from 16 to 18 August, Creativeman debuted a new three-day format, in celebration of the festival’s 20th anniversary. The pop- and rock- focused line-up featured the Red Hit Chili Peppers, Babymetal, the Chainsmokers, Fall Out Boy, the 1975, Blackpink and Japanese rock bands Sakanaction and B’z.

All tickets sold out for the Tokyo-based side of the event, held at the adjoining Zozo Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe exhibition hall. The Osaka leg of the festival, which took place at the Maishima Sonic Park, shifted all Friday tickets and weekend passes.

Speaking to IQ ahead of the event, Creativeman director Sebastian Mair said one festival day sold out three months before the festival started. “I don’t think we have ever had a day that has sold out that early,” Mair told IQ.

“[Japanese festivals] are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else”

Just like fellow Japanese rock festival Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic suffered from adverse weather, with Typhoon Krosa causing the cancellation of performances on Tokyo’s beach stage on Friday.

Summer Sonic will take a one-year break in 2020 to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics.

The Japanese festival scene has become fairly saturated in recent years, with international brands such as Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival, Download and Ozzfest setting up shop in the country.

Mair comments that the festival market remains “stable”, saying that international managers and agents are “always astounded by how well they [Japanese festivals] work”.

“They are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else,” Mair told IQ.

Read more about the “booming” Japanese live scene in IQ’s country feature below.

Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack

 


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Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack

Big in Japan’ was a term, in the 80s and 90s, for modestly successful American and European acts that found slightly unlikely mega-stardom in the Land of the Rising Sun.

It wasn’t an insult, exactly – who wouldn’t want to be big in Japan? – but it was often used sneeringly, whether directed at Mr Big, the early-90s rock supergroup who still hop up into the big leagues every time they touch down at Narita International Airport, or Scatman John, whose 1994 record Scatman’s World is, remarkably, Japan’s 17th biggest-selling international album of all time.

But the days when Japan might have been seen as an easily impressed bonus market for Western acts are long gone. Over the past 20 years or so, the balance has shifted dramatically, as Japanese domestic music output – as well as that of nearby frenemy South Korea – has surged in both quantity and quality. Today, international music takes, at most, a 10% share of the live market, with domestic on a commanding 85% and South Korea’s K-pop juggernaut accounting for about 5%.

Today, the Japanese music market is the second biggest in the world, behind the US and ahead of Germany. Its live sector has set new records in both of the past two years, hitting ¥332 billion in 2017 (around €2.7bn) and then rising again to ¥345bn (€2.8bn) in 2018 – a 3.7% uplift that came in spite of a small decline in the number of shows – according to the All-Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC).

“The Japanese market in live entertainment has been on the upward trend since the middle of 2010,” says ACPC director Takao Kito. “That’s not only because of the increase in live shows caused by a drop-off in CD sales, but because of a change in users’ minds from consuming products to experiences.”

Clearly, Japan remains a highly appealing market for international promoters and artists, and the big ones are certainly chipping away at it. Live Nation has a Japanese office and, with local partners, has co-promoted plenty of recent arena shows. AEG, meanwhile, worked in partnership with Japanese giant Avex on its recent Ed Sheeran and Celine Dion concerts. But both global promoters know they face a stiff challenge to get much deeper into the Japanese business.

Korean stars record Japanese versions of their songs. In a country where little English is spoken, and even less Korean, such things make a difference

“It is a very mature, competitive market that Live Nation has had a hard time getting traction in,” concedes Live Nation Japan president John Boyle, who has headed the giant’s Japanese push since early 2018. He says Live Nation has big hopes for Japan but fully appreciates the challenge of bringing them to fruition. “I think it is more challenging than anywhere else in the world,” he says.

The fact is, for all its surging fortunes, Japan has numerous characteristics that fly in the face of Western music business orthodoxies and, in many cases, restrict access from outside. CDs remain dominant, claiming 80% of music sales, but though the physical market has certainly declined, streaming has not yet caught on, removing a vitally important channel for artists seeking to find exposure in a new market.

Record companies remain powerful but heavily domestically focused, with local majors – of which there are many, including titans such as Avex, Universal, Sony Music Entertainment Japan and JVC Kenwood – unlikely to take a punt on an unknown foreign act, however successful they may be elsewhere. Tour support, once commonplace, has fallen out of fashion.

Meanwhile, large venues, remarkably scarce in the immense sprawl of Tokyo, book up years in advance, with weekends often block-booked by domestic promoters working in groups. For international operators attempting to route world tours and finding only assorted weekday evenings available, locking down an appropriate venue at the right time becomes profoundly difficult.

Where smaller international bands are concerned, the situation is not much easier. There are no booking agents in Japan, and mixed festival bills are limited and hard to crack. While promoters are heavily engaged in scouting new talent, few are tempted by foreign artists with little following. So new indie artists looking to build an audience typically need to deal direct with Japan’s rai-bu houses – small, private venues that usually don’t pay – and organise their own promotion.

But of course, that 10% doesn’t come from nowhere. Sheeran, needless to say, does good business, selling out the Tokyo Dome and Osaka’s Kyocera Dome in April, supported – as he was across all of Asia – by Japanese rock heroes One OK Rock. Live Nation, too, has its own pipeline: recent arena shows include Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Maroon Five, with U2, Queen and Adam Lambert and the Backstreet Boys coming soon.

“The market for international artists – not counting K-pop – is now around a third of what it was 45 years ago”

Paul McCartney, who spent a memorable nine nights in a Tokyo jail in 1980, once again has the run of the place: he has played 19 shows and a dozen VIP soundchecks in Japan since 2013 – at the Tokyo Dome, the Ryōgoku Sumo Hall and the Nippon Budokan in the capital, plus trips out to arenas in Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.

What is very clear though, is that, Western rock and pop sensations aside, Japan’s growth is very much coming from within. “I have been in this business for nearly 45 years,” says Yoshito Yamazaki of long-serving music, sport and musical theatre promoter Kyodo Tokyo, which promotes Korean sensations BTS in Japan, “and I’d say the market for international artists – not counting K-pop – is now around one third of what it was 45 years ago.”

Japan’s own J-pop is a broad and varied thing, nominally encompassing everything from singer-songwriters such as Kenshi Yonezu and Gen Hoshino, to multiplatinum pop-rockers Mr Children, to J-pop/metal fusion Babymetal, although its most prominent category is idol groups – manufactured pop bands assembled by all-powerful, notoriously controlling management agencies. Many of Japan’s major pop stars are made this way, including boy bands Arashi, KAT-TUN, Exile, Suchmos and others, and girl bands such as AKB48, Morning Musume, Momoiro Clover Z, Keyakizaka46 and Nogizaka46, who inspire obsessive cults and make most of their income through live work and, more to the point, relentless merchandising.

Homegrown rock is booming in Japan, too, led by Babymetal but also One OK Rock, Band-Maid, Scandal and Man With a Mission. And, of course, the nation has long supplied intriguing cult artists to the rest of the world, from the Yellow Magic Orchestra and its lynchpins Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto to Shonen Knife, Cornelius, the Boredoms and Boris.

K-pop, meanwhile, has made a big impression in Japan, even as diplomatic relations between the two countries have soured in recent years. But unlike Western artists, Korean stars such as BTS, Blackpink and Twice record Japanese versions of their songs. In a country where little English is spoken – and even less Korean – such things make a difference.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 84, or subscribe to the magazine here

 


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Festival Focus: ACL, Summer Sonic, Karoondinha

With the 2017 festival season fast approaching and many events close to finalising this year’s line-ups, we’ve introduced a new, slimmed-down Festival Focus for 2017 to ensure we cover as much news as possible – keeping you abreast of all the latest developments in the festival world with the minimum of waffle.

Read on for all the latest festival announcements (headliners are in bold), or click here for the previous FF. And if we’ve missed something, or you’d like to see your event featured in a future Festival Focus, feel free to drop news editor Jon Chapple a line at jon@iq-mag.net.

 


Hurricane Festival/Southside Festival, Germany (FKP Scorpio, 23–25 June)
Kakkamaddafakka, Twin Atlantic, Dave Hause and the Mermaid, Fatoni, JP Cooper, Louis Berry, Stu Larsen, Amber Run , Leif Vollebekk, Rebels of rhe Jukebox, Mikroschrei, Luke Noa & the Basement Beats, Tuesday Night Project, Die Boys

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, Spain (Maraworld, 13–16 July 2017)
Biffy Clyro (Spanish exclusive), Years & Years, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Temples, Dream Wife, Tiga, Honne, La Casa Azul, Joe Crepusculo (Jim Reid/Jesus and Mary Chain photo by pj_in_oz on Flickr)

Latitude, UK (Festival Republic, 13–16 July 2017)
Katherine Jenkins, Leon Bridges, The Coral, Mystery Jets, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Beth Orton, A Blaze of Deather, Childhood, Black Peaches, etc.

Karoondinha Music & Arts Festival, US (Hawk Eye Presents, 21–23 July 2017)
Chance the Rapper, Paramore, Sturgill Simpson, Porter Robinson, The Revivalists, etc.

Jim Reid, The Jesus and Mary Chain, V Festival 2008, Sydney

Pukkelpop, Belgium (The Factory vzw, 16–19 August 2017)
Ryan Adams, Stormzy, The Shins, Sampha, Halsey, Armand Van Helden, Jake Bugg, Enter Shikari, Richie Hawtin, Jackmaster, 2manydjs, Youngr, etc.

Summer Sonic, Japan (Creativeman, 19–20 August 2017)
Calvin Harris, Foo Fighters, Black Eyed Peas, Kasabian, Sum 41, 5 Seconds of Summer, Justice, Charli XCX, Good Charlotte, Royal Blood, Kesha, Above & Beyond, Rick Astley, etc.

Reading Festival/Leeds Festival, UK (Festival Republic, 25–27 August 2017)
Liam Gallagher, You Me at Six, Vince Staples, Pvris, Goldie, Muna, Mura Masa, Jagwar Ma, Sub Focus, Kurupt FM, etc. (Liam Gallagher photo by Anthony Abbott)

Rock en Seine, France (LNEI Live, 25–27 August 2017)
Band of Horses, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Lemon Twigs, Grouplove, The Shins, Her, Car Seat Headrest, Timber Timbre, Slowdive, Romeo Elvis, Her, Deluxe

Liam Gallagher, Beady Eye, Isle of Wight Festival 2011, Anthony Abbott

Made in America Festival, US (Live Nation, 2–3 September 2017)
Jay Z, J. Cole, The Chainsmokers, Solange, Kaskade, Marshmello, Sampha, Migos, Stormzy, 21 Savage, Run the Jewels, Little Dragon, Pusha T, DMX, Vic Mensa, Yung Lean, etc.

OnBlackheath, UK (Crosstown Concerts, 9–10 September 2017)
The Libertines, Travis, De La Soul, Metronomy, Craig Charles’s Funk and Soul Club, Jake Bugg, KT Tunstall, Seasick Steve, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Black Honey, Tom Williams, Steve Mason, etc.

Beyond the Tracks, UK (Moseley Folk Ltd, 15–17 September 2017)
Orbital, Ocean Colour Scene, Editors, Leftfield, Faithless, Maxïmo Park, The Coral, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Peter Hook and the Light, Jagwar Ma, Wild Beasts, etc.

Austin City Limits, US (Live Nation, 6–8 and 13–15 October)
Jay Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, The Killers, Gorillaz, Martin Garrix, The xx, Ice Cube, Ryan Adams, Solange, Run the Jewels, Spoon, Vance Joy, Zhu, Royal Blood (weekend one), Eagles of Death Metal (weekend two), Foster the People, etc.

 


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Festival Focus: 6 Music, Lovebox, WayHome, Flow

With the 2017 festival season fast approaching and many events close to finalising this year’s line-ups, we’ve introduced a new, slimmed-down Festival Focus for 2017 to ensure we cover as much news as possible – keeping you abreast of all the latest developments in the festival world with the minimum of waffle.

Read on for all the latest festival announcements (headliners are in bold), or click here for the previous FF. And if we’ve missed something, or you’d like to see your event featured in a future Festival Focus, feel free to drop news editor Jon Chapple a line at jon@iq-mag.net.

 


Father John Misty, Ana Violtti/Side Stage Collective

6 Music Festival, UK (BBC, 24–26 March 2017)
Depeche Mode, Father John Misty, Belle and Sebastian, Temples, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Goldfrapp, The Lemon Twigs, Ride, Sparks, Cate Le Bon, etc. (Father John Misty photo by Ana Violtti/Side Stage Collective)

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, UK (Cheltenham Festivals, 26 April–1 May 2017)
Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Ben Folds and Jamie Cullum, Chick Corea, Booker T. Jones, Jack Savoretti, etc.

Sea Star Festival, Croatia (Exit, 26–27 May 2017)
Fatboy Slim, Paul Kalkbrenner, Modestep, Pendulum, Elemental, Bad Copy, Brkovi, Artan Lili, Jonathan, High5 and Kukus, Kiša metaka, Krankšvester, Matter, Sassja

Roots Picnic, US (Live Nation, 3 June 2017)
Pharrell and The Roots, Lil Wayne, Solange, 21 Savage, Kimbra, etc.

Justin Bieber, Lou Stejskal

FPSF, US (Free Press Houston, 3–4 June 2017)
Lorde, Flume, G-Eazy, Cage the Elephant, Solange, The Shins, Groulove, Charli XCX, Tove Lo, Carnage, Post Malone, Jon Bellion, Lil Uzi Vert, Jauz, etc.

Pinkpop, Netherlands (Mojo Concerts, 3–5 June 2017)
Justin Bieber (photo by Lou Stejskal)

Lovebox Festival, UK (Mama Festivals, 14–15 July 2017)
Chase & Status, Jamie XX, Jess Glynne, Solange, Annie Mac, Giggs, Andy C, Rag’n’Bone Man, Mac Miller, Seth Troxler, Kurupt FM, etc.

Rock Werchter, Belgium (Live Nation, 29 June–2 July)
Prophets of Rage, The Kills, Crystal Fighters, Kaleo, Warhaus, Benjamin Clementine, Mark Lanegan Band, Mura Masa, Maggie Rogers, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Soulwax, Rae Sremmurd

Jamiroquai, Sydney, new year's eve 2011, Eva Rinaldi

Colours of Ostrava, Czech Republic (Colour Production, 19–22 July 2017)
Jamiroquai, Imagine Dragons, Norah Jones, alt-J, Birdy, Moderat, LP, Laura Mvula, Benjamin Clementine, Unkle, Booka Shade, Nouvelle Vague, Afro Celt Sound System, etc. (Jamiroquai photo by Eva Rinaldi)

Truck Festival, UK (Global, 21–23 July 2017)
The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines, The Wombats, Slaves, Maxïmo Park, Nothing but Thieves, Loyle Carner, British Sea Power, Twin Atlantic, Jagwar Ma, Mr Motivator, etc.

WayHome Music & Arts Festival, Canada (Republic Live/Fource, 28–30 July 2017)
Frank Ocean, Imagine Dragons, Flume, Justice, Solange, Marshmello, Schoolboy Q, Vance Joy, Tegan and Sara, The Shins, etc.

Boardmasters, UK (SW1 Productions, 9–13 August 2017)
The Flaming Lips, The Vaccines, Stormzy, Frank Turner, Lethal Bizzle, Ziggy Marley, Gordon City, Giggs, Jagwar Ma, Kate Nash, Kurupt FM, etc.

Frank Ocean, Øyafestivalen 2012, Per Ole Hagen/NRK

Flow Festival, Finland (Flow Festival Ltd, 11–13 August 2017)
Frank Ocean, Ryan Adams, Moderat, Young Thug, Sampha, Sparks, Car Seat Headrest, which was originally born as a solo vehicle for frontman Will Toledo, Larry Heard, Model 500, Princess Nokia, Oranssi Pazuzu, Töölön Ketterä, Mikko Joensuu, Pykäri and Ahjo Ensemble, Litku Klemetti, The Holy, Vesta (Frank Ocean photo by Per Ole Hagen/NRK)

Appelsap Fresh Music Festival, Netherlands (Applesap, 12 August 2017)
Lil Wayne, Dave, Kempi, Yung Nnelg, 67, Jarreau Vandal, Siobhan Bell, Vic Crezée, etc.

Lowlands, Netherlands (Mojo Concerts, 18–20 August 2017)
Bastille, London Grammar, Cypress Hill, Michael Kiwanuka, Architects, Billy Talent, Future Islands, Glass Animals, Nina Kraviz, Robert Hood, Talaboman, Baloji, Denzel Curry, Palace, Shame, SMIB

Summer Sonic, Japan (Creativeman, 19–20 August 2017)
Calvin Harris, Liam Gallagher, 5 Seconds of Summer, Charli XCX, Justice, Kesha, Phoenix, Royal Blood, Sum 41, Circa Waves, Good Charlotte, G-Eazy, New Found Glory, etc.

 


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