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Creativeman: “We can see light at the end of the tunnel”

Japan’s leading promoter Creativeman says it is “seeing light at the end of the tunnel” as restrictions are gradually lifted.

The Japanese government recently announced plans to increase the cap on the number of people entering Japan from 3,500 to 5,000 per day starting in March.

In addition, the quarantine period for arrivals will be shortened from seven days to three from March, when the country opens to returning foreign residents (not tourists).

However, the quarantine requirement for international artists won’t be determined until next week, according to Japanese promoters’ association ACPC.

Regardless, Creativeman is bullish its marquee festival Summer Sonic will return to Tokyo and Osaka this summer for the first time since 2019 – international artists and all.

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August,” says Creativeman’s Layli Odamura. “The reception at the announcement was so fantastic on every platform. Everyone is very eager and ready for it to happen and feel the heat.”

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August”

The 1975 and Post Malone were recently announced as headliners of the festival, due to take place on 20–21 August simultaneously at Zozomarine Stadium & Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, and at the Maishima Sonic Park in Osaka.

Other international artists lined up for the event are Carly Rae Jepsen, Kasabian, The Libertines, Maneskin, Megan Thee Stallion, One OK Rock, The Offspring, Primal Scream, St. Vincent, Yungblud, All Time Low, Beabadoobee, Easy Life, Fishbone, Kacey Musgraves, Inhaler, Kula Shaker, Rina Sawayama, Squid and the Linda Lindas.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan,” maintains Odamura. “We as a promoter are ready for the live market to return and we will continue to assess the situation with the government. There will be multiple headline shows happening towards the autumn onwards too.”

Despite Japan’s strict border controls and quarantine requirements during the past two years, Creativeman has had some success in bringing overseas artists to the country.

Last September, the promoter pulled off Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, Supersonic.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the two-day event at Zozomarine Stadium.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan”

The festival was considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts and, a few months later, Creativeman promoted the first headline tour of an international artist in Japan in 18 months with King Crimson.

In another win for international promoters in Japan, a Creativeman-led alliance successfully lobbied the government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan, which was officially announced last year, includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo.

The consortium, completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax, complements the work of existing music association ACPC, with which it shares members.

The consortium’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines, which Asia-based execs say is the biggest challenge facing the market.

 


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New indie promoter Take Me Out launches in France

French concert organiser Speakeasy has joined forces with Paris rock club Supersonic to launch new national promoter, Take Me Out, with a focus on breaking emerging artists.

Run by live music industry veteran Jean-Louis Schell, Speakeasy worked with acts such as The Libertines and Kasabian, while the 300-cap Supersonic in Bastille has welcomed the likes of Yungblud, The Warlocks, Nick Olivieri and Soccer Mommy, along with DJ sets by Peter Hook, Anton Newcombe and Carl Barat, among others.

“The idea behind Take Me out is to build on the strengths of both companies to spot talent early on and book their gigs on French territory,” Schell tells IQ.

“The Supersonic has been attracting crowds for the past six years with three free shows a night, a strong programme of up and coming international acts and indie nights. The next step for them was obvious – to become a concert promoter – but they needed the skills and a team. I know how to contribute to an artist’s career and I have a strong network of agents, festivals and venues.

“Supersonic wanted to team up with Speakeasy because before the pandemic they would book an artist with Speakeasy at least once a month, and also appreciated the fact that I went to the shows to see the artist play. I began to know the team quite well and value their dedication to live music.”

“Business is coming back and things are looking good, but more difficult than in the past”

Schell explains the idea to launch Take Me Out was formulated last summer.

“It all came together very quickly, at a time when standing shows were allowed but problems with international tours would still arise because of travelling difficulties,” he recalls. “As far as the organisation goes, it was mostly administrative issues since I just moved my roster from my own company to the new one.

“We want to take the artists as far as we can while remaining independent. We believe there is a lot of potential for international rock and pop artists in France.”

Take Me Out plans to run venues of all sizes, with upcoming dates already in the diary at Supersonic, Maroquinerie, Trianon and Elysée Montmartre, with shows at Zénith also set to be confirmed soon.

“The plan is to take artists way beyond small-sized venues such as the Supersonic,” he notes.

France has announced a gradual easing of restrictions on live events, with audience capacity limits for seated events already lifted and standing events permitted from 16 February.

“Business is coming back and things are looking good, but more difficult than in the past,” adds Schell. “The pandemic crisis has turned into a systemic one. So the only way for us is to find how to bring people back in small and medium venues, which are the core of our business. Let’s say it’s a bet on a brighter future.”

 


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Creativeman: ‘Supersonic was a big step in Japan’s recovery’

Supersonic promoter Creativeman says the event was a ‘big step’ towards the resumption of festivals and concerts in Japan.

The festival was Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, and has been considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the Creativeman-promoted event in Zozomarine Stadium, Tokyo.

The event took place across 18 and 19 September and the promoter says that in the two weeks subsequent, there were no reports of infection from visitors, performing artists, or staff.

At the festival, attendees were asked to comply with a number of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that included eating meals in silence, abstaining from alcohol, maintaining social distancing and “quietly waiting” for admission to the event.

Attendance for each day was estimated at between 10,000 and 13,000.

“Japanese entertainment has finally restarted”

“The time that had been stopped for over a year due to coronavirus has begun to move, and Japanese entertainment has finally restarted,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

“We were able to take a brilliant first step toward revival by taking thorough infection control measures, but the road has just begun. We will continue to make trial and error, and aim for Summer Sonic 2022 one year later. I would like to expect entertainment in a new era.”

The one-off event was held in lieu of Creativeman’s annual Summer Sonic festival which was cancelled this year due to the fact that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics used venues normally rented for the event.

Originally, Supersonic was to be held in Tokyo and Osaka but the latter was cancelled after Creativeman decided that holding the event in two locations was not feasible, considering state-of-emergency restrictions.

Japan lifted its Covid-19 state of emergency, covering 19 prefectures, at the end of September amid a dramatic fall in cases and rapid progress in its vaccination rollout.

 


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Fuji Rock wants attendees to ‘refrain from speaking’

Japanese festival Fuji Rock has published a series of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at this summer’s edition – one of which discourages festivalgoers from speaking to each other.

The Smash Corporation festival is set to take place at its usual home of Naeba Ski Resort in Tokyo, between 20–22 August 2021, but not as we know it.

This year, the festival’s typical international bill has been replaced with a completely domestic line-up which includes Radwimps, Man With a Mission, King Gnu, Cornelius, The Birthday, ROVO and Denki Groove, while stage capacities may be restricted depending on circumstances.

Festivalgoers must adhere to a number of stringent restrictions which range from wearing a mask and socially distancing to the more bizarre requirements.

The festival has published an extensive list of prohibitions for attendees which includes raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations during the performances’.

Naoki Shimizu, president of Japanese promoter Creativeman, told the Japan Times that requirements like these are necessary if the live music industry is ever going to stage a comeback, especially in a country where cases have recently been spiking and the vaccine rollout still hasn’t hit its stride.

Raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations’ are discouraged at Fuji Rock

Shimizu revealed that Creativeman festival Supersonic, which welcomed 300,000 people across three days in 2019, will also set out a number of requirements for attendees: “We will have to check everyone’s temperature, first. Capacity will be limited. And alcohol … we probably can’t have alcohol at the festival.”

This year’s Supersonic will be a post-Olympics version of its trademark Summer Sonic event held simultaneously in Chiba and Osaka prefectures and will feature 10 acts across three days – though the line-up is yet to be announced.

With Japan’s borders largely closed to international travel and the Tokyo Olympic Committee moving to ban international spectators from the Summer Games (23 July to 8 August), it’s likely that Supersonic will also opt for a domestic line-up.

Both Creativeman and Smash have spent much of 2021 lobbying for the resumption of international touring in Japan via a new consortium of Japan-based international promoters.

Earlier this year, the consortium succeeded in getting the Japanese government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The alliance’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines.

 


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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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Loss of festivals no big deal, says Goan minister

There will be no decline in tourism in Goa this Christmas, despite the state government having forced two of India’s biggest musical festivals to relocate, its tourism minister has declared.

Rival dance music festivals Sunburn and Supersonic – the former of which attracted 350,000 festivalgoers in 2015 – will both move to Pune (Poona), in Maharashtra, this December after Dilip Parulekar declared they would no longer be welcome in Goa in 2016.

Speaking to the IANS news agency, Parulekar says the impact on tourism should be minimal. “People come for Goa’s culture, not because of EDM,” he comments. “It will not affect [footfall] much.”

“People come for Goa’s culture, not because of EDM”

Announcing Supersonic’s move, Saugato Bhowmik, of promoter Viacom18, praised Pune for its “openness towards modern influences” – in contrast, perhaps, to Goa, where one local politician accused dance music of being “against [Indian] culture and [pro-] pushing drugs” – and a “world-class destination” for the festival.

“Deeply-rooted in culture and traditions, the city is known for its openness towards modern influences and thought, Pune is a seamless blend of local culture and global influences, thereby making it an apt destination for the upcoming edition of Vh1 Supersonic,” says Bhowmik. “We also see this as an ongoing journey to provide transformative experiences to today’s youth by creating the Supersonic world at the kind of world-class destinations that Pune is providing to us. We are looking forward to a very successful Vh1 Supersonic, celebrating Pune as our new home.”

Insomniac held its first event in the subcontinent, Electric Daisy Carnival India, at the Buddh International Circuit near Delhi last weekend.

 


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Goa declares war on Asia’s biggest music festival

Asia’s largest music festival, Goa electronic dance music (EDM) event Sunburn, is facing an uncertain 2016 after the Indian state’s tourism minister announced that no EDM festivals will be allowed to go ahead in the final week of the year.

The ban will also affect arch-rival Supersonic.

“At that time so many tourists are in Goa to celebrate New Year or Christmas,” Dilip Parulekar told journalists at Goa’s state secretariat, reports India.com. “We do not want these EDM events at that time. They should be organised before or after that period.”

Both festivals take place at the same time, from 27 to 30 December – Sunburn (which last year attracted a record-breaking 350,000 attendees) on Vagator beach and Supersonic on Candolim beach, both in Bardez – and have in recent years been subject to criticism from local politicians, police and businesspeople, many of whom would prefer that they be held at different times to better serve the economy and relieve pressure on Goa’s narrow streets and ageing infrastructure.

“We do not want these EDM events at that time. They should be organised before or after that period”

According to a December Goa News report, both Sunburn promoter Percept Ltd and Supersonic’s Viacom 18 are also behind on taxes following the Goan police’s decision to hike the festivals’ security bills and backdate them three years.

Aside from the logistical issues, it is also possible that many in the Goan government’s hostility to its world-leading EDM festivals comes from a deeper-seated moral opposition. Sunita Verenkar, of the conservative governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said in December: “The BJP government should ban EDMs [sic]. While in the opposition, they had accused the Congress [party] of promoting such festivals, which according to them were against [Indian] culture and [pro-] pushing drugs.”

Supersonic has yet to announce any dates for 2016, while Sunburn’s website still shows the festival as taking place from 27 to 30 December.

 


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