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Superstruct expands in the Dutch festival market

Live powerhouse Superstruct Entertainment has acquired a stake in Amsterdam-based Festival Travel.

Specialising in festival holidays, Festival Travel has organised travel arrangements for international visitors to events such as Exit in Serbia and Hungary’s Sziget and Balaton Sound over the past decade.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major European festivals including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross.

“It is very valuable to gain the trust of a company of this size”

“It is very valuable to gain the trust of a company of this size,” says Festival Travel co-owner Ruud Bongaerts. “The customer experience is always central to our way of acting and with that, we create unique festival summers for tens of thousands of young people every year.

“The past summers were of course very difficult for us, with everything that resulted from the corona pandemic, but this new chapter gives us a lot of confidence in the future.”

The parties released no further details on the deal, which was reported by Netherlands-based publication Entertainment Business and comes a week after Superstruct signed a partnership agreement with Dutch promoter ID&T.

 


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ID&T joins forces with Superstruct Entertainment

Dutch promoter ID&T has signed a partnership agreement with leading live organisation Superstruct Entertainment.

According to today’s announcement, the deal has helped steer ID&T into “a safe haven” after a tough year and a half that saw the company take out a number of loans, slash its workforce, and cancel its festivals.

“By creating this financially sound situation, we have secured the employment of our 100+ employees and are able to move forward with our suppliers who are also struggling at this time,” says Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group.

Financial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed but it has been revealed that the founders and senior management of the ID&T Group have become shareholders in Superstruct.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major festivals across Europe including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross – the company’s first acquisition since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

ID&T’s portfolio includes Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake – all of which have been cancelled two years in a row due to restrictions.

It is also the parent company of organisations such as Q-dance, ID&T Events, B2S, Monumental (Awakenings), Art of Dance, Platinum Agency, and Headliner Entertainment.

“ID&T is a significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused festivals”

James Barton, chairman of Superstruct Entertainment: “We are very excited to join forces with ID&T, a business that I have long admired. Our partnership with ID&T is a very significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused live music festivals and our excitement about the significant joint growth opportunities that lie ahead as live events return.”

The companies say the deal will provide great opportunities in sharing knowledge and creating synergies between the companies to further improve the fan experience at their festivals.

Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group adds: “ID&T will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022. This partnership is an important strategic step in the development of our company, which we already embarked upon in 2019, pre-covid, and was ultimately delayed by 1.5 years.

“The past 19 months have been very tough for us and the entire event industry, but we are excited to see that Superstruct has been able to look through the current environment, recognising the combined potential of these two world-class companies.

“The international live events industry is increasingly consolidating and Superstruct has developed itself into a high quality, market-leading powerhouse in our industry. We are happy to be part of such an experienced group and strongly believe we can reinforce each other in many ways.”

 


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Norway’s 2021 festival season obliterated

Norway’s 2021 festival season has been effectively wiped out with the cancellation of Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest and Tons of Rock, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival.

The cancellations come after the minister for culture last week (6 May) announced preliminary guidelines which would restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.

The restrictions come in spite of the government’s NOK 350m festival cancellation pot, which the minister said aims to “create predictability now, so that the industry can start planning different scenarios”.

“There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice”

Bergenfest, which would have take place between 15–19 June 2021 at Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, was cancelled last night.

“With current restrictions on outdoor events in June, it is not possible to complete Bergenfest 2021 as we know the festival. There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice. It is therefore unfortunately time to confirm the inevitable – Bergenfest 2021 will not happen in June this year,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

Bergenfest will return between 14–18 June 2022.

Øya Festival, which would have taken place between 10–14 August 2021 at Tøyenparken, Oslo, was cancelled the day after the proposed restrictions were revealed.

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row”

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row,” general manager Tonje Kaada wrote on the festival’s website. “Our big wish over the past year has been to gather artists, the audience, festival workers, volunteers and partners for a unique festival experience in Tøyenparken, but it will not be possible with the guidelines that the authorities presented this week.

“There is too much uncertainty associated with the existing framework, and even the best case scenario with 5,000 people, it’s not compatible with the audience experience Øya Festival wants to provide. We have no choice but to realize that it will not be happening in 2021. Even though we are sorry, it is a relief to be able to provide a clarification to everyone who has been waiting for it. We’ll roll up our sleeves and start over now.”

Øya will return between 10–13 August 2022.

Norway is the latest European market to pull the plug on the 2021 festival season, following widespread cancellations in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Denmark and France.

 


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Superstruct makes first acquisition since pandemic

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct Entertainment has bought a majority stake in Dutch festival and event organiser Feestfabriek (Party Factory) – the company’s first acquisition since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Feestfabriek is responsible for organising the largest paid-for festival in the Netherlands, Zwarte Cross, which combines music, motocross, comedy and theatre, as well as grassroots festival Mañana Mañana, which has been running since 2013.

Superstruct will add the two festivals to its impressive portfolio, which includes one of the world’s biggest festivals, Sziget Festival in Hungary, Budapest, as well as Wacken Open Air in Hamburg, Germany, which was the company’s last acquisition, in August 2019.

Neither Superstruct nor Feestfabriek has disclosed the terms of the new deal.

According to a statement from Superstruct, nothing will change for visitors to the festivals and employees of the Feestfabriek, nor for the parties that the Feestfabriek works with.

The company also says there are no plans to change Zwarte Cross, Mañana Mañana nor any other activities of Feestfabriek.

“Superstruct works from the philosophy that local core values, creative aspects and specialties that characterise an event will always be respected, so that the events remain truly unique.

“We trust the Feestfabriek team to continue doing it as it has been up to now. It is a long-term partnership and we look forward to working together,” the company’s statement reads.

“We trust the Feestfabriek team to continue doing it as it has been up to now. It is a long-term partnership”

The statement says that the companies combined network of events offers ‘broad possibilities’ associated with programming, international partnerships, new events and joint purchasing.

Feestfabriek owners, Hendrik Jan Lovink, Gijs Jolink and Ronnie Degen, say: “We are pleased that in these difficult times the continuity of the Feestfabriek is guaranteed and we look to the future and growth opportunities with confidence!”

Co-founder Hendrik Jan Lovink has announced plans to step down after 30 years at the company.

“We have really managed to build something special together, the Zwarte Cross is rock solid and the Feestfabriek can continue for years to come on all fronts. That is why this feels to me (however contradictory it may be) as the right moment to be able to leave the Feestfabriek and to focus on other beautiful things that life still has to offer me and my family,” he says.

Lovink will leave after this year’s addition of Zwarte Cross, which has been rescheduled to 23-26 September and relocated, though a new location is yet to be determined.

“With this relocation ahead we can’t say with certainty that the event will take place in 2021. There is uncertainty for everyone… the size of the Zwarte Cross is not exactly helping in this case,” the statement reads.

 


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Bergen Live, Øya tasked with saving Norway’s summer

Live Nation-owned concert and festival promoter Bergen Live, and Superstruct-backed Øya Festival will be partially responsible for determining how the upcoming festival season can take place.

The two organisations will bring their live music expertise to the Norwegian government’s newly formed working group, which is completed by festival organisations spanning literature, sports, arts and agriculture.

With the input of Norway’s health authorities, the group has been tasked with the safe reopening of large outdoor events this summer, compliant with the infection rate at the time.

Minister of culture, Abid Raja, has entrusted the group with two tasks. The first is to look at alternative practical solutions that make it possible to carry out the events within the current infection control rules.

“The working group must solidify its understanding of what can be realistic when it comes to planning summer events within an optimistic scenario, an intermediate scenario and a pessimistic scenario,” the brief reads.

“The working group must solidify what can be realistic within optimistic, intermediate and pessimistic scenarios”

The second task is for the members of the group to provide professional input and suggestions for solutions that make it possible to open to a larger audience than previously allowed during the pandemic.

“The input must include plans for handling the public both to and from and during the events themselves with a view to reducing the risk of the spread of infection,” the brief outlines.

The working group will be required to submit their input on the three aforementioned scenarios by 5 March.

Norway’s government this month took an important step towards ensuring this year’s summer season can go ahead, with the announcement of a NOK 350m cancellation insurance fund for festivals.

While this week the government paid out another NOK 120m to compensate organisations including Live Nation, All Things Live and Tons of Rock for last year’s festival season wipeout.

 


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European leaders join forces for Solutions for Festivals

Yourope, the European festival association, is working with the continent’s leading festival operators on a new initiative that aims to ensure outdoor events are able to return as soon as it is safe to do so.

At Yourope’s invitation, AEG Presents, Eventim Live/FKP Scorpio, Goodlive, Live Nation and Superstruct Entertainment have partnered for Solutions for Festivals, working to bring back “full-capacity outdoor live events at the earliest opportunity”.

To that end, the Solutions for Festivals work group is consulting with senior figures in production, the supply chain, and festival health and safety, as well as medical experts.

According to the association, the group’s focus is on “reviewing and coordinating efforts to implement best practices for the health and safety of fans as festivals return”.

More information about the work of Solutions for Festivals will be revealed soon.

 


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Colosseum: Sziget unveils all-new immersive arena

Hungary’s Sziget Festival has revealed the Colosseum, a brand new, open-air electronic music arena, for 2020.

The Colosseum, featuring a 360° design, central stage and state-of-the-art sound and lighting, will play host to electronic artists including Honey Dijon, DJ Stingray, Chris Liebing, Dr Rubinstein, Gerd Janson and La Fleur.

Other acts announced for this year’s Sziget, which is taking place from 5 to 11 August, include Calvin harris, Dua Lipa, the Strokes, Lewis Capaldi, Major Lazer and Asap Rocky.

The Colosseum features a 360° design, central stage and state-of-the-art sound and lighting

One of Europe’s largest festivals, over 530,000 festivalgoers attended the seven-day long event in 2019, which saw headline performances from Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine, Martin Garrix, the 1975, Twenty One Pilots, the National and Macklemore.

In 2017, Sziget received backing from private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, becoming one of the first assets in the now-significant Superstruct portfolio.

Tickets for Sziget 2020 are available here, with a three-day tickets costing €209 (£183), a five-day pass priced at €279 (£244) and a seven-day ticket at €319 (£280).

 


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Festival Fever: updates on 2020 summer

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from Bluedot, Sziget festival, Reading and Leeds, Lowlands, Flow Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Bluedot

When: 23 to 26 July
Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK
How many: 16,000

From the Fields’ Bluedot festival, which takes place each year at the Jodrell Band Observatory – a recently declared UNESCO World Heritage site – is back for its fifth outing in 2020 with another packed programme of music and science.

Friday night sees dance act Groove Armada head up the main stage, with indie-electro group Metronomy headlining on Saturday. The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk, who is performing alongside Manchester’s Halle Orchestra to a backdrop of bespoke projections on Jodrell Bank’s crowning jewel, the Lovell Telescope.

Elsewhere, performances will come from 808 State, Roisin Murphy, Crazy P, Spiritualized and Daniel Avery.

Last year’s Bluedot, which coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, saw headline performances from Hot Chip, Kraftwerk and New Order.

Tickets for Bluedot 2020 are available here, priced at £168.75 for a weekend camping ticket.

The final day of the festival will close with a UK festival exclusive from Björk

Sziget

When: 5 to 11 August
Where: Obuda island, Budapest, Hungary
How many: 60,000

Hungarian mega-festival Sziget released the first wave of its line-up last week, with a total of five headline acts announced so far.

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage at the week-long festival, with ASAP Rocky, Khalid, Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Foals, Mark Ronson, Foster the People, Diplo and FKA Twigs among other acts performing at the event.

Over 530,000 people attended Sziget 2019, which saw nine headline performances over seven days from Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine, Martin Garrix, the 1975, Twenty One Pilots, the National and Macklemore.

Providence Equity partners took a 70% stake in Sziget promoter Sziget Cultural Management in 2017, as the festival became one of the first assets in the now-significant Superstruct portfolio.

Tickets for Sziget 2020 are available here, with a full seven-day pass costing €299 (£249) and a VIP pass priced at €599 (£499). Prices go up on 3 March.

Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and the Strokes will head up the main stage

Reading and Leeds

When: 28 to 30 August
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading/Bramham Park, Leeds, UK
How many: 100,000

Festival Republic’s twin festivals Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine this year, with fellow headliners Stormzy and Liam Gallagher.

Other performers at 2020 events include Run the Jewels, Courteeners, Migos, Gerry Cinnamon, AJ Tracey, Sam Fender, Rex Orange County, Slowthai and Idles.

The festivals last year recorded their hottest and biggest year yet, with nearly 200,00 people a day collectively attending the twin events over the hottest August bank holiday on record. Headline performances came from the 1975, Foo Fighters and Twenty One Pilots, with then-rising star, now multi award-winner Billie Eilish producing what “may well have been the biggest crowd at a Reading show ever”.

Tickets to Reading and Leeds festivals are available here, with a weekend ticket priced at £232.20 and day tickets priced between £81.50 and £86.50.

Reading and Leeds will be headed up by Rage Against the Machine, with Stormzy and Liam Gallagher

A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise

When: 21 to 23 August
Where: Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands
How many: 55,000

Mojo Concerts’ A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, or Lowlands, has confirmed the first 55 acts for its 2020 festival.

The Chemical Brothers, Foals, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Stormzy and Michael Kiwanuka are among acts playing at this year’s event.

The 2019 edition of Lowlands sold out for the fastest time in years, with a line-up featuring Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, ASAP Rocky and New Order.

In a bid to make future events more sustainable, Mojo is working together with renewable energy producer Solarfields to develop a 35-hectare solar farm on the Lowlands festival car park, due to be completed in time for 2021 festival.

Festival tickets for Lowlands 2020 have sold out, but €605 (£504) group camping tickets (up to 8 people) are still available here.

The Chemical Brothers, Foals and Lewis Capaldi are among acts playing at this year’s event

Flow Festival

When: 14 to 16 August
Where: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki-based, multi-venue music and arts event Flow Festival is playing host to acts including Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco, Stormzy, the Strokes, FKA Twigs and 070 Shake.

The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance and comes in a string of Scandinavian festival appearances, adding to slots at Norway’s Oya festival and Way Out West in Sweden.

James Barton-led festival owner/operator Superstruct acquired a stake in Flow Festival in November 2018.

Tickets for Flow Festival 2020 are available here, with a one-day ticket costing €105 (£88) and a three-day passed priced at €195 (£163).

The festival marks the Strokes’ first-ever Finnish appearance

Montreux Jazz Festival

When: 3 to 18 July
Where: Montreux, Switzerland
How many: 200,000 (whole festival)

Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz, Brittany Howard and Black Pumas are the first acts announced this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF).

Taking place on the banks of Lake Geneva, MJF celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and last year played host to performers including Elton John, Snarky Puppy, Lewis Capaldi, George Ezra, Lizzo, the Chemical Brothers, Mac DeMarco and Quincy Jones.

The MJF team last year launched media company Montreux Media Ventures, which is working together with luxury hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resort Group to establish a concert series across the group’s properties and keep the MJF spirit alive all year.

Tickets to Montreux Jazz Festival 2020 will become available on March 27, the day after the full programme is released.

 


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Festival Fever: more line-up announcements for 2020

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from US festivals Coachella and Bonnaroo, and European events Wacken Open Air, Pinkpop, Melt! and Pohoda.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Wacken Open Air

When: 30 July to 1 August
Where: Wacken, Germany
How many: 75,000

Leading metal event Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) sold all 75,000 tickets for its 2020 edition in under 24 hours. Slipknot, Amon Amarth, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate are among those playing the 2020 event.

Speaking to IQ for a special 30th anniversary feature last year, W:O:A co-founder Thomas Jensen said the event was “kind of a home for a dedicated group of people”. Jensen and fellow Wacken co-founder Holger Hübner are to receive the lifetime acheivement gong at this year’s European Festival Awards.

Jensen and Hübner’s International Concert Service (ICS), which includes a roster of other hard rock festivals, a touring division, a booking agency (Seaside Touring), ticketing platform Metaltix and the nonprofit Wacken Foundation, received investment from James Barton-led Superstruct Entertainment last year.

Fans can sign up to the waiting list for Wacken 2020 tickets here.

W:O:A sold all 75,000 tickets for its 2020 edition in under 24 hours

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

When: 10 to 12, 17 to 19 April
Where: Empire Polo Club, California, USA
How many: 125,000

AEG/Goldenvoice-promoted mega festival Coachella is returning to the Californian desert for two consecutive weekends in April, marking the start to the international festival season.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are headlining the event, alongside performers including Calvin Harris, Thom Yorke, Lana Del Rey and Flume.

Coachella 2019 saw headline performances from Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala. Last year’s festival also saw the introduction of a new, AR-enabled stage.

Tickets for both Coachella weekends are now sold out. Fans can join the waiting list for tickets here.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are headlining the 2020 event

Pinkpop

When: 19 to 21 June
Where: Megaland, Landgraaf, the Netherlands
How many: 60,000

Pinkpop, promoted by Buro Pinkpop in partnership with Mojo Concerts, last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, with founder Jan Smeets receiving a special commemorative coin to mark his achievements.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses are headlining Pinkpop for its 51st edition, which also features performances from Twenty One Pilots, Rag’n’Bone Man, Anderson Paak, Nothing But Thieves and Keane.

Artists including Fleetwood Mac, Mumford and Sons and the Cure played the festival’s anniversary event last year.

Tickets for Pinkpop 2020 are available here, priced at €230 (£195) for a three-day pass.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses are headlining Pinkpop for its 51st edition

Pohoda

When: 9 to 11 July
Where: Trenčín Airport, Slovakia
How many: 30,000

Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest music festival, will this year welcome acts including Stormzy, the Libertines, Metronomy, Thom Yorke, Wolf Alice and Floating Points.

The festival, which has sold out for the past two years, won the Take a Stand Award at last year’s European Festival Awards for its commitment to peace and tolerance, with festival director Michal Kaščák winning the prize for excellence and passion.

Pohoda, which means ‘peace’ in English, is nominated for the best medium festival award, line-up of the year and the health and safety innovation award at the upcoming European Festival Awards 2019, taking place on 15 January at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Tickets for Pohoda 2020 are available here, with a three-day festival ticket priced at €109 (£93).

Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest music festival, will this year welcome acts including Stormzy, the Libertines and Metronomy

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

When: 11 to 14 June
Where: Great Stage Park, Tennessee, USA
How many: 20,000

Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala are headlining Bonnaroo, in the festival’s first year under full Live Nation ownership.

Other announced acts include Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Vampire Weekend, the 1975, Flume and Bassnectar.

Live Nation, which had a controlling interest in the festival since 2015, acquired the remaining stake from the event’s co-founder Superfly last year. Fellow co-founder AC Entertainment continues to promote the event alongside Live Nation and C3 Presents.

Tickets for Bonnaroo 2020 are available here, with prices ranging from US$329 (£251) for general admission to $3,275 (£2,502) for a platinum pass.

Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala are headlining Bonnaroo, in the festival’s first year under full Live Nation ownership

Melt!

When: 17 to 19 July
Where: Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, Germany
How many: 20,000

Melt! Festival, one of the biggest open-air electronic music events in Germany, this year features sets from Bicep, Floating Points, DJ Stingray, Marcel Dettman, Nina Kraviz and Helena Hauff, as well as performances from Burna Boy, Little Simz and Woodkid.

Taking place at Ferropolis –‘the city of iron’ –, a former open-cast mine complete with enormous, decommissioned industrial machines, Melt! Last year featured acts including Bon Iver, Skepta, Jorja Smith, Asap Rocky, Four Tet and Solomun.

Melt! Festival creative director Florian Czok, who also works as an agent at Berlin’s Melt! Booking, was named as one of IQ’s 2019 New Bosses.

Tickets for Melt! 2020 are available here, priced at €124.95 (£106).

 


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Buying and selling for beginners: Mayland CEO talks industry M&A

Investments and takeovers are the core business of Matthias Just, CEO of Mayland AG. Before becoming a lawyer Just completed an apprenticeship as a banker, and his CV includes positions in the UK and US at companies including Deloitte and Touche Corporate Finance.

Since the end of 2005, he has been a member of the board of Mayland AG, a Dusseldorf-based company specialising in mergers and acquisitions – including the likes of the takeover of Parookaville by Superstruct, whose portfolio also includes Flow Festival, Sonar, Sziget and Wacken Open Air, and is backed by Providence Equity Partners, which manages more than $45 billion worth of investments.

IQ spoke to Just (pictured) about why the live music industry is increasingly attractive to institutional investors – as well as how external investment companies can offer a compelling alternative to the major multinational concert businesses…

 


IQ: What is the external perception of the live music industry in the financial sector?
Matthias Just
: The live music industry is growing and a stabilisation of turnover and profitability figures can be seen across most companies. Besides this, there are always new festivals that draw attention to themselves through innovative concepts and designs and are able to assert themselves in the market. In general, demand is still very high, despite increasingly high ticket prices.

In recent years, we have noticed that consumers in the leisure and entertainment sector have seldom been price-sensitive and are prepared to pay higher ticket prices in order to spend a weekend at their favourite festival. This willingness to pay is what distinguishes this industry and makes it interesting for strategic investors, as well as financial investors and corporate holdings.

On the other hand, what is the current situation of the financial market in terms of potential investors and investments?
It was inevitable that Brexit, the [US-China] trade dispute and the signs of an imminent recession would not leave investors unscathed. Therefore, we can perceive a slight increase in uncertainty across the market as a whole, which will – should the signs of an economic downturn become clearer in the coming months – lead to a reallocation of investors’ investment focus.

In this sense, this means that companies in a sector that is independent of economic cycles – such as the events market – will be given preference over cyclical investments, which generally tend to be negatively affected in times of recession.

“This willingness to pay is what distinguishes this industry and makes it interesting for strategic investors”

What role does Mayland play in the M&A process?
We see ourselves both as consultants and coordinators. Within an M&A transaction, on which we act both on the buyer and seller side, we coordinate all necessary services in order to achieve a successful conclusion of the transaction. In addition to classic sell- or buy-side M&A advice, our range of services also include succession planning, financial advice, company valuation and strategic business development.

There are many in the concert industry who worry about the involvement of external investment companies. Are they right to be concerned?
These reservations about external investment stem from the public debates about the financial sector due to the financial crisis in 2008. Also, various companies have been forced to cut jobs after an investment company had joined them – and even today, some entrepreneurs still face a loss of control when taking an investment on – but this process is anything but inevitable.

While anyone who sells shares in a company loses some control, the manner in which this transfer of control takes place is an important factor that a seller can influence significantly before the transaction is completed – a crucial point at which we come into game and, together with the current owner and management of a company, determine how this transfer should be structured from the seller’s point of view.

There are many understandable motives for dealing with the topic of participation [from the investment sector] from the entrepreneur’s point of view. However, those who are not familiar with participation systems and legal framework conditions should take on professional support, even in the case of a first initial meeting with a potential buyer.

“Companies in a sector that is independent of economic cycles – such as the events market – will be given preference over cyclical investments”

In one sense, AEG, CTS Eventim and Live Nation are investors, too. Aren’t these companies the better investors than those who have little or no industry knowledge?
In terms of strategic fit, these players in the industry are certainly good candidates – concert companies or festivals can benefit from the networks of these companies and partially improve their operative business. On the other hand, these investors usually require a majority stake (usually more than 50% – ie a qualified majority with which they can enforce all strategic decisions), which means that the seller can lose control of his or her festival, at least in the legal sense.

For smaller companies that are looking for a strategic partner, but do not want to give up control over their business, other strategic investors or financial investors may be the better alternative.

Providence Equity, as a financier of Superstruct, is a prominent player in concert takeovers. Do you expect other big players from the private-equity sector to increasingly be interested in the live music industry in the future?
That’s quite possible. However, Providence Equity’s Superstruct vehicle and its managers [including CEO James Barton, ex-Creamfields/Live Nation] are industry experts who know the festival business very well and usually have experience as festival organisers themselves.

This expertise is particularly important in an industry such as live entertainment, because the structures are special and personal aspects play a meaningful role.

However, in addition to Providence, there are many other investment companies with a strong interest in the festival industry.

 


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