Fruzsina Szép reflects on Superbloom’s sold-out debut
Seasoned festival pro Fruzsina Szép has spoken to IQ about the debut edition of Goodlive’s newest festival, Superbloom.
The two-day event finally launched in Munich’s historic Olympic Park last weekend (3–4 September) after two postponements due to Covid-related restrictions.
Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta and David Guetta were among the acts that performed across 11 stages during the event.
Alongside live music, the festival delivered a multi-faceted programme of art, culture, diversity, lifestyle, society, research and development, sustainability and science, with the aim of “redefining the music festival concept”.
“I wanted to create a 360-degree festival experience and I think we’ve done that well,” says Szép. “It was important to me that the visitors immersed themselves in a charming world and experienced many moments of happiness that they can now take with them into their everyday lives.”
The inaugural edition drew 50,000 visitors and ultimately sold out, which Szép says was “a dream come true” after a “mentally challenging” few years for the Superbloom team.
“It’s a new festival, a new brand, a new site and there are new colleagues, so there’s a learning curve”
And while the event was a success, Szép says that there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“It’s a new festival, a new brand, a new site and there are new colleagues, so there’s a learning curve…we have to be patient,” says the director, who has previously worked on Lollapalooza Berlin and Sziget.
“Sometimes our audience expects us to be 100% but we are not perfect and I don’t want to be perfect,” she continues. “I always wanted to have the possibility to make mistakes but to learn from them and to correct them and make them better in the next year. I’m not afraid to receive criticism – I grow from it.”
The biggest learning curve for the festival, she says, was navigating the unique site, which utilised the 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium as the main stage.
On Saturday night, organisers were forced to halt entry to the stadium, where headliner Calvin Harris was playing his only German concert this year, due to a crowd flow issue.
“The problem was, on the floor of the stadium there is a maximum capacity of 20,000 and that was already full,” explains Szép.
“Sometimes our audience expects us to be 100% but we are not perfect and I don’t want to be perfect”
“There would have been space for 30–40,000 more people in the seats but people were stopping and sitting down at the beginning of the seats, rather than moving to the far end.
“Many people were queueing outside and some people were trying to go to another stage so it became the kind of situation which could have been very difficult. And Calvin Harris was already playing so it was impossible for the security and volunteers to ask people to get up and move along. That’s why we had to decide very quickly to stop letting people into the stadium.
“We were planning the crowd flow for months but we weren’t prepared for people to sit down at the beginning of the stands.”
The next day, the Superbloom team communicated the crowd flow to fans and the main stage programme went off without a hitch.
Extreme weather also proved to be an issue on the Saturday, with strong winds, heavy rain, lightning and thunder causing the programme to grind to a halt for an hour and a half.
As a result, Years & Years were forced to forego their set on the main stage and Megan Thee Stallion’s slot was reduced to 30 minutes.
Superbloom was praised by the German government for making the festival inclusive and accessible for disabled music fans
“The safety and security of our audience, our artists and our team is the first priority when we are on-site – no question,” says Szép. “Severe weather is an issue for every open-air event – we have to deal with force majeure measures all the time. These are normal procedures.”
Challenges aside, the festival was hailed as one of the most diverse events in the European festival market, with a range of ages, genders, races, nationalities and sexualities represented on the lineup. This was ultimately reflected in the audience – 60% of which were female.
In addition, Superbloom was praised by the German government for making the festival inclusive and accessible for disabled music fans.
“We worked closely with a group of experts who live with disabilities to help us deliver the maximum festival experience for others [with handicaps],” says Szép.
“Yesterday I was in a panel with the government’s representative for disabled people living in Germany, who is blind himself, and he said he has never before seen a German festival of that size so well organised for disabled people. That gave me such a great feeling.”
Having grown up with a blind father, accessibility is a matter close to Szép’s heart and has informed many aspects of the festival.
Having grown up with a blind father, accessibility is a matter close to Szép’s heart
“I grew up in Munich. And, for many years, on many weekends, my father and I would walk around this Olympic Park. He told me to experience the world not just with my eyes but with all my senses so I had this in my head while creating the concept for the festival.
“Being an adult now and having the possibility to organise Superbloom here was so emotional and I could feel my father’s energy,” says Szép.
Alongside the main stages, the Superbloom programme included an area hosting 30 NGOs including Greenpeace and Music Declares Emergency, assembled by Yourope general manager Holger Schmidt.
Other dedicated areas focussed on art, fashion, and theatre, with roaming performances ranging from robot dogs and giraffes, to ballerinas twirling atop mobile pianos and marching bands.
Superbloom returns to the Olympic Park in Munich from 2-3 September 2023.
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More speakers confirmed for IFF 2022
The latest round of guest speakers and conference topics have been unveiled for the International Festival Forum (IFF) 2022, ILMC’s invitation-only event for music festivals and booking agents.
United Talent Agency’s UK office co-head Obi Asika is the first industry leader confirmed to join host James Drury (ILMC) for The Festival Season 2022, to discuss the key challenges organisers have faced as we look forward to a smoother 2023.
Wasserman Music’s Adele Slater (UK) and Chris Payne (WME, UK) will appear alongside IQ Magazine‘s Gordon Masson and Smash!Bang!Pow! CEO Nikolaj Thorenfeldt (DK) on Festivals & Agents: Happier than ever? to examine the main ingredients powering our multi-billion dollar business.
And Barbara Hexges (Superbloom!, DE) will speak at The New Kids on the Block, a quickfire presentation session of every key new festival and agency that’s emerged in the last 18 months, alongside Stephan Thanscheidt (Tempelhof Sounds, DE) and Jess Kinn & Sean Goulding from One Fiinix Live (UK).
The first 400 delegates from 26 countries are now signed up for IFF 2022
IFF 2022 will offer the usual plethora of networking, showcases, panels, and parties – all taking place between 27-29 September in London. Check out the first speaker announcement here.
The first 400 delegates from 26 countries are now signed up, with demand for IFF 2022 passes proving higher than ever.
IFF’s new delegate hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, will be transformed into IFF Central for three days and host conference sessions, private parties and meetings, and speed dating for attendees.
Wasserman Music, WME, CAA, UTA, Primary Talent, ATC Live, X-Ray Touring, Solo Agency, Pure, One Finiix Live and Earth Agency are among the first to back the 2022 edition as agency partners, many of whom will present showcases featuring the hottest new talent.
Full information about this year’s event, including how to apply for a pass, is online at www.iff.rocks.
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Superbloom hires Annika Hintz as head of booking
Germany’s Goodlive has named Annika Hintz as head of music booking for its newest festival, Superbloom.
She succeeds Christof Huber (Gadget abc Entertainment Group AG), who led the booking team on an interim basis.
Hintz previously worked at Hamburg-based promoter Kopf und Steine, where she was head of booking and department head of the festivals. As part of her role, she was responsible for booking Hamburg festivals MS Dockville and Spektrum until 2020.
Between March 2020 and January 2022, Annika Hintz was responsible for booking the About You Pangea Festival, the only festival that was allowed to take place in Germany in 2021 with a capacity of 15,000 visitors.
“A diverse and sophisticated line-up is guaranteed for the years to come”
She was also responsible for Das Ding Festival in Mannheim, the Way Back When Festival in Dortmund and Kosmos Chemnitz.
Hintz will now take on the national and international booking for Superbloom, which debuts between 3–4 September at Munich Olympic Park.
The music, arts and lifestyle festival will host acts including Calvin Harris, Kraftklub, Megan The Stallion, Rita Ora and Stromae.
“We are very pleased that we were able to win such a great booker as Annika for Superbloom,” says Fruzsina Szép, festival director and managing director of Superbloom Festival.
“With their comprehensive view of new and established artists, a diverse and sophisticated line-up is guaranteed for the years to come. We would like to thank Christof Huber for his support this year and are delighted that he will continue to serve as a strategic advisor will work for the Superbloom and support the booking team.”
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Goodlive details debut outing of Superbloom
Germany’s Goodlive has detailed the inaugural edition of Munich festival Superbloom.
The two-day event was due to launch two years ago but was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-related restrictions.
The highly anticipated festival is now set to take place at Munich’s historic Olympic Park on 3 and 4 September.
Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta, Years & Years and Tupoka Ogette have today been confirmed to perform at Superbloom 2022.
They join previously announced acts David Guetta, AnnenMayKantereit, Kraftklub, Glass Animals, Stromae, Anne-Marie, Zoe Wees, Kaya Yanar, Willow and Girl in Red.
Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta, Years & Years and Tupoka Ogette have today been confirmed
In addition to musical artists, best-selling author, human rights activist and anti-racism expert Tupoka Ogette will give a keynote speech on the main stage.
The Berlin comedian Kurt Krömer and comedy veteran Kaya Yanar will deliver comedy shows, and many other artists and podcasters will also be part of the diverse line-up.
Alongside the entertainment, Superbloom will offer 11 ‘experience areas’ centred around art, fashion, science, sustainability, dance and acrobatics.
Further experience areas as well as the line-up of the newcomer stage NeoNeo and the BeerBrass&Beats beer garden will be announced in the coming months.
The Superbloom team is spearheaded by European festival pro Fruzsina Szép, who was appointed MD of the festival in 2019.
See the line-up for Superbloom below.
Germany’s Goodlive announces reshuffle
Germany’s Goodlive has announced a new management structure “in preparation for ‘the roaring 20s’ of the post-pandemic live entertainment industry”.
Co-founders and managing partners Stefan Lehmkuhl and Thomas Resch have announced their departure from the company, leaving Fruzsina Szép, Julian Gupta and Justus Mang with greater responsibility.
Gupta, alongside his role as managing director of Ferropolis-based festival splash! (cap. 30,000), will also assume responsibility for the festival booking team at Goodlive.
In addition, he will also take over the management and booking of Freiburg-based festival Heroes, which Goodlive partnered with in early 2020, working alongside the festival’s founder Lukas Apfelbacher.
Szép, who was appointed MD of Superbloom in 2019, will be primarily responsible for the Munich launch of the festival.
“[Fruzsina, Julian and Justus] have one of the best teams in the world at their disposal”
In the future, all three will actively support the management of Goodlive, alongside the remaining confounders and managing partners at the company Marko Hegner and Mirko Roßner. The fifth cofounder of Goodlive, Matthias Hörstmann, left in 2017.
Stefan Lehmkuhl says: “I am incredibly proud and delighted that trusted friends like Fruzsina, Julian and Justus will play a more leading role in shaping the future of Goodlive. They have one of the best teams in the world at their disposal, and many of the people I’ve worked with over the years are taking on more responsibility for some of the projects I’ve had the pleasure to help shape over the past 20 years.
“Personally, I long for a period of pause and reflection on whether and in what capacity I see my future in the live entertainment industry after the pandemic, and I am happy to have the privilege of taking a longer break after more than two decades of never standing still.”
“We feel well-positioned to further expand our role as an independent alternative in the festival and touring market”
Thomas Resch adds: “When I stumbled into the live entertainment industry 25 years ago at the young age of 18, I could not have imagined where this journey would lead. It was a very exciting time with many challenges and even more unforgettable moments.
“During the last years, Julian Gupta has firmly shaped splash! and achieved a great deal. I am sure that under his leadership, our strong team will master all other challenges and that Goodlive will continue on its successful path.”
Marko Hegner, MD, Goodlive, says: “We feel well-positioned to further expand our role as an independent alternative in the festival and touring market from 2022 onwards and are incredibly excited to finally tackle projects that had already been planned before Corona, such as Superbloom Festival in Munich, Heroes Festival in Freiburg and the launch of Goodlive Artists in Austria.
“I have a lot of respect for Thomas’ and Stefan’s decisions to put their own needs first after a pandemic that was demanding for all of us, and I am grateful that together we have succeeded in optimally positioning Goodlive for the future in terms of personnel during a longer preparation phase.”
Fruzsina Szép named MD of Munich’s Superbloom fest
Experienced European festival pro Fruzsina Szép has joined Superbloom, a new event debuting in Munich next September, as managing director.
Szép was most recently festival director of Lollapalooza Berlin, which she had overseen since its launch in 2015. Before joining Lolla Berlin (produced by Superbloom organiser Goodlive for Live Nation’s C3 Presents and Festival Republic), she spent seven years as programme director for Budapest’s Sziget festival.
“I will dedicate my entire expertise, passion, attention to detail and creativity to the exciting challenge as managing director and festival director of Superbloom within Goodlive GmbH,” she comments. “I am especially happy that we are bringing this exceptional format to my hometown, Munich.
“My focus is to combine tradition and innovation, local and international, in a loving and special way, to craft a unique and new experience that can only take place in Munich.”
Held at Munich’s Olympic Stadium/Olympiapark, Superbloom promises a “new festival experience” that “redefines the music festival concept” with mix of “international and national live acts” and “art, culture, diversity, lifestyle, society, research and development, sustainability and science”.
“Building a new festival brand in these times is a unique opportunity”
Performers including Miley Cyrus, David Guetta, DJ Snake, the Pussycat Dolls, Scooter and Liam Payne were to have played the 2020 festival.
“Building a new festival brand in these times is a unique opportunity,” says Stefan Lehmkuhl, managing partner of Goodlive, “in a new era, without blinders from the past, but also with major social challenges. With Superbloom I couldn’t imagine a better team for this than the one under the leadership of my longtime friend and colleague, Fruzsina.”
In addition to her years with Lollapalooza and Sziget, Hungarian-born Szép founded the Hungarian Music Export Office and helped develop the EU project CEETEP (Central-Eastern European Talent Exchange Programme). She is also a board member of the European Festival Association (Yourope), a chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and an honorary associate professor.
“With great longtime colleagues like Julia Gudzent in booking, Steven Kruijff in production and Jule Kauert in project management, as well as the whole Goodlive team, I think we are absolutely capable of setting new standards in the European festival landscape,” adds Lehmkuhl.
The ticket presale for Superbloom 2021 will open in the coming weeks, with two-day tickets starting at €155 and day tickets from €89.
German festivals unite to raise money for sector
Festival for Festivals, an online event organised by German music festival platform Höme, will raise money for events by encouraging fans to recreate the festival experience at home and selling wristbands and merchandise.
Events participating in the Festival for Festivals initiative include Superbloom, Das Fest Karlsruhe, Rock of Ages, Maifeld Derby, Sea You Festival and MS Dockville.
From 21 to 23 August, German festival fans around will be encouraged to dig out their camping chairs and pitch their tents to transform their homes and gardens into their favourite festival site, as large-scale events remain outlawed until the end of October.
Festivalgoers will be able to don festival wristbands and t-shirts by purchasing the Festival for Festivals box, with all proceeds going to participating festivals. Priced at €35, the box also contains a Höme magazine, adhesive tattoos, a reusable plastic cup and a festival-scented air freshener.
“We will celebrate our festival landscape together in a virtually connected way”
Fans can choose to support an individual festival from the Festival for Festivals list or donate the money to a joint festival fund. A lucky few will also receive a golden festival wristband in their box, granting free access to all participating festivals next year.
Festival for Festivals is also releasing an app in August, which will feature interactive challenges for festivalgoers to compete in, as well as broadcasts of past festival performances and talks.
“In the past few weeks, we have all felt what we will miss due to the absence of the festival season this year, but we have also seen many – be it festival fans or organisers – sharing their enthusiasm for this huge, diverse festival landscape,” comments Höme co-founder Johannes Jacobi.
“This is where we want to start with the Festival for Festivals, by collecting money to support festivals, initiatives, artists and service providers, but also giving the festival fans a stage – and celebrating our festival landscape together in a virtually connected way.”
Festival boxes can be bought here until 19 July.
Festival bosses talk cash flow, artist fees
The second IQ Focus festival panel, Festival Forum: The Next Stage, saw festival leaders from around Europe discuss the thorny issues of refunds and insolvency, as well as the outlook for 2021, in what should have been the halfway point of the 2020 season.
Hosted by IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson, the panel welcomed Mad Cool’s CIndy Castillo, Isle of Wight Festival/Solo Agency’s John Giddings, ARTmania’s Codruta Vulcua and Goodlive’s Stefan Lehmkuhl, two months on from the initial virtual Festival Forum session.
The current situation, said Giddings, has made it “blatantly obvious” that the business has an issue with cash flow and that many promoters don’t have any kind of “war chest to go forwards”.
“I don’t understand how you bankrupt companies by refunding tickets,” he said. “You shouldn’t be spending the ticket money on costs – you need to be in the position to be able to refund all the money. We have a responsibility to the audience.”
Giddings noted that some promoters have got into the habit of “taking money from the future to pay the past”, and it has become clear that this doesn’t work.
“This may teach people a lesson on how to run a business,” he said.
The other panellists agreed to an extent, but noted that a lack of support and clarity from the authorities has complicated matters in a lot of cases.
“This may teach people a lesson on how to run a business”
“Our government hasn’t even declared force majeure yet for live events”, said Castillo, who promotes Madrid’s Mad Cool festival. “This has put us in a very tricky legal situation.”
The Mad Cool team only started its refund period last week, explained Castillo, but is allowing people to make the decision on whether to hold onto tickets for next year or refund them until after the full 2021 line-up is revealed.
In Romania, said Vulcu, an immediate reimbursement “would have bankrupted many organisers”, as the government is implementing new restrictions every two weeks.
“There are companies with shows built up, everything ready and paid for, and then suddenly it had to be cancelled,” she said. A voucher scheme implemented by the government, allowing promoters to offer credit for shows or merchandise in place of cash refunds, has been a lifeline for many.
ARTmania did choose to offer refunds, but only received 43 requests. “Our decision to trust our audience really worked for us,” said Vulcu, adding that this tactic may “work for rock and metal audiences perhaps more than for others.”
“So far, we have been able to spend our own money,” he said,” but the next step would be to touch the ticket money, then to get low-interest credit from the government in case it takes longer.
“What happens if it takes longer than a year?” he asked. “Few companies will be able to survive for longer than a year.”
“Our decision to trust our audience really worked for us”
Mindful of cash flow, Goodlive has asked for deposits back from acts it booked for this year. “There is mutual understanding there,” said Lehmkuhl. “We are trying to rethink our festivals for next year, adjusting dates and concepts. We will start from scratch in some ways next year.”
As the promoter of Isle of Wight Festival, Giddings said he also asked for deposits to be returned. “We are doing contracts going forward for next year and will pay the deposit then.”
In terms of being an agent, Giddings said he is not going to take a fee reduction for artists. “I would rather they didn’t play than take a reduction on my act,” he said.
“As an agent I wouldn’t book an act for festival next year unless they’re going to pay me the same money,” he said, “and we’ve done the same thing as a festival.”
Ticket prices will also have to stay the same, as so many fans are rolling over their tickets to next year. “Anyone raising ticket prices is insane,” said Giddings. “We need to get an audience back first before charging more.”
Vulcu, who said she left the money with the agencies when rescheduling, agreed that she will not be paying artists less money, “but we will definitely not pay more”.
“Romanian audiences will have a lot less money and the priority will not be going to festivals,” she said.
“As an agent I wouldn’t book an act for festival next year unless they’re going to pay me the same money, and we’ve done the same thing as a festival”
Castillo said her experiences have been “positive” with every agent. “We are looking out for each other to prevent the industry collapsing,” she said.
The Mad Cool booker admitted that it will be “really hard” to get the same audiences next year, “so we need help with fees to make things happen”.
“We are running a big risk with the festival next year”.
The recovery of the music business in Spain “hasn’t event started yet”, said Castillo, as “you first have to understand our business model, identify problems and offer solutions – and we haven’t been offered any solutions yet.”
Giddings replied that, although the recent culture funding package announced by the UK government is sizeable, “we have no idea who it’s going to go to and how it will work”. He added that it was more likely to benefit venues than agents or promoters.
Sponsors are another issue for 2021. “Investing in events is risky now,” said Castillo, “and this is definitely affecting us.”
Vulcu said that, while ARTmania has secured its main sponsor for next year, “it is very difficult to get new sponsors”.
“Investing in events is risky now, and this is definitely affecting us”
Most Isle of Wight Festival sponsors have also “stuck with us” said Giddings, who believes that sponsors will start to come back in once it’s clear the event is going to happen, although they may be “different kinds of sponsors relating to our changing normal”.
Giddings added that he is “praying” for some direction on what will happen next year by Christmas, with clear information needed by March at the latest.
For Lehmkuhl, the key for the “new normal” is a high level of flexibility and an ability to keep running costs very low.
The Goodlive co-founder said that the idea of testing at festivals “is one of the few realistic plans [for getting event up and running] nowadays”, provided that the government is able to provide tests for free.
“It is hard for me to imagine that we will be able to do festivals as normal next year,” he admitted, “but one thing’s for sure, I will not be doing them with social distancing.”
IQ Focus returns with ‘Festival Forum: The Next Stage’
After a week’s break, IQ’s virtual panel series – IQ Focus – is back with Festival Forum: The Next Stage, which sees representatives from a handful of European festivals give an update on the state of the sector.
The ninth panel of the popular IQ Focus series, the session will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 9 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, building on a previous Festival Forum panel almost two months on.
Midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, 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?
How confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return?
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 Magazine editor Gordon Masson hosts this IQ Focus discussion with panellists Cindy Castillo of Spain’s Mad Cool festival; John Giddings of the Isle of Wight Festival and Solo Agency; Stefan Lehmkuhl who promotes Splash, Melt, Superbloom and With Full Force festivals at Germany’s Goodlive; and Codruta Vulcu of Romania’s ARTmania Festival.
All previous IQ Focus sessions, which have looked at topics including diversity in live, management under lockdown, the agency business, large-scale and grassroots music venues and innovation in live music, can be watched back here.
Lolla Berlin, Superbloom cancelled as September events fall
German festivals scheduled for September 2020 inlcuding Lollapalooza Berlin and Superbloom have been cancelled, as the coronavirus pandemic begins to affect events beyond the end of August.
Last week, the German government imposed a ban on events over 1,000 people until 31 August, causing the cancellation of summer staples such as MLK’s Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane and Southside, Goodlive’s Melt and Splash! Festivals and Superstruct’s Wacken Open Air and Parookaville.
Now, events past the 31 August deadline are also calling time on 2020. Goodlive has called off its September festivals Lollapalooza Berlin and Superbloom, in a week that also saw the cancellation of Oktoberfest, Munich’s 210-year-old, world famous beer festival, which runs for 17 days up to the first Sunday of October.
The Berlin senate yesterday (21 April) announced that events of over 5,000 people would not be allowed in Germany until 24 October, causing the cancellation of Lolla Berlin, which was to take place from 5 to 6 September at the city’s 90,000-capacity Olympic Stadium and Park.
“This decision saddens us tremendously because we would have loved to present you the new and playful world of Superbloom”
“Lollapalooza Berlin will no longer be taking place this year,” reads a statement from the Lolla Berlin team, which was to feature Rage Against the Machine and Miley Cyrus. “The health and safety of our fans, artists, staff and community will always be our top priority. Lollapalooza Berlin 2021 will be worth the wait…”
Information on ticket refunds will be available in due course.
Goodlive has also called off the debut outing of Munich festival Superbloom, scheduled for the same weekend with acts including David Guetta, Pussycat Dolls, Miley Cyrus and DJ Snake.
“This decision saddens us tremendously because we would have loved to present you the new and playful world of Superbloom,” reads a statement from organisers. “However, the safety and health of all our visitors, artists and crews is of course our first priority and considering the current decisions, we do not see any possibility to host the festival this year.”
The inaugural Superbloom will now take place from 4 to 5 September 2021.