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Paradise City to run entirely on renewables by 2025

Belgian festival Paradise City says it is on track to run entirely on renewable energy by 2025.

The three-day electronic festival – named the world’s most sustainable music festival at January’s International A Greener Festival (AGF) Awards – takes place annually in the gardens of Castle Ribaucourt, Steenokkerzee.

With the support of renewable energy pioneer Eneco, the 8,000-cap festival has taken “big steps” towards its 2025 sustainability goal, implementing floating solar panels and an on-site electricity cabin that provides green power.

The total on-site solar power at Paradise City 2024 will be 372m²

Organisers say that the goal for the upcoming edition of Paradise City is to glean 33% of total energy consumption from solar power, 33% from HVO (bio-fuel) and 33% from grid power. The festival will be supplied with 100% sustainable and locally generated power from an Eneco solar farm in Puurs.

Last year, the festival installed more than 90 additional solar panels and three battery containers on the island in front of its castle, dubbed the Eneco Solar Island. The island’s 180m² of solar panels generated 1038 kWh and directly powered the Contrast Stage.

This year, an additional 60 solar panels will float on the water next to the castle, creating another 120m² of solar energy and bringing the total on-site solar power to 372m².

To further reduce energy consumption, Paradise City uses a smart energy plan including an algorithm that controls generators to minimise excess energy consumption. In addition, all light sources at the festival site use LED technology.

Paradise City 2024 will see 134 artists and bands, including Floating Points and Bonobo, perform across seven stages between 28–30 June.

 


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Coldplay beat world tour emissions target

Coldplay have revealed they have beaten their target for cutting carbon emissions on their Music of the Spheres World Tour.

The band’s tour announcement back in late 2021 came hand-in-hand with a 12-point plan for cutting their carbon footprint, including a pledge to reduce their direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel by at least 50% compared with their previous A Head Full of Dreams stadium tour.

In their last update in June 2023, the group said the tour had produced 47% less CO2e emissions than their 2016/17 trek. Twelve months on, they have improved on those figures significantly.

“We’re happy to report that direct CO2e emissions from the first two years of this tour are 59% less than our previous stadium tour, on a show-by-show comparison,” say Coldplay in a statement. “These figures have been verified by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to our incredible touring family and to all the brilliant people who’ve made this possible. Most of all, we’d like to thank everyone who’s come to a show and helped charge the show batteries on the power bikes and kinetic dance floors; everyone who’s arrived by foot, bike, ride share or public transport; everyone who’s come with refillable water bottles or returned their LED wristband for recycling; and everyone who’s bought a ticket, which means you’ve planted one of seven million trees so far.

“As a band, and as an industry, we’re a long way from where we need to be on this. But we’re grateful for everyone’s help so far, and we salute everyone who’s making efforts to push things in the right direction.”

A comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint is being conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), co-funded by Coldplay, Live Nation and Warner Music Group (WMG).

Coldplay also launched a free app for fans as part of their pledge to make the tour as eco-friendly as possible. Highlights from the ongoing trek have included an 86% average return and re-use rate of LED wristbands, 18 shows powered entirely using the tourable battery system in 2023 made from recycled BMW i3 batteries and 23 partnerships with green travel providers to help fans travel to shows via super-low carbon transport.

“This latest analysis of Coldplay’s impact on the environment from touring is again setting a new standard for the entire music industry”

In addition, 17kWh average power per show has been generated via in-venue solar installations, kinetic dance floors and power bikes – enough to power the band’s C-stage performance each night.

All shows have offered free water refill stations for fans, while over 3,000 tCO2e has been saved by purchasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for flights, and 72% of all tour waste has been diverted from landfill and sent for reuse, recycling and composting, while 9,625 meals and 90kg of toiletries donated from tour catering to the unhoused and unsheltered.

“For some time now, Coldplay has been leading by example in taking seriously and acting on the various interrelated environmental and social challenges facing humanity; climate change, biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, environmental injustice and more,” says Prof. John E. Fernández of MIT.

“With each subsequent year of their tour they demonstrate an evolving vision and expanded commitment to move the entire music industry toward true and humane sustainability and planetary resilience. From collecting unprecedented amounts of data to taking specific actions today based on rigorous analysis, Coldplay is modelling a trajectory toward a low carbon, biodiverse and equitable future.

“This latest analysis of Coldplay’s impact on the environment from touring is again setting a new standard for the entire music industry. The data and the methods of analysis support the conclusion that substantial progress has been made to reduce emissions in touring.”

The Music of the Spheres Tour could see Coldplay become the first band to gross $1 billion from a single tour. At last count it had earned $810.9m, having been attended by 7.66 million fans. This June, the group will become the first act to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage five times. They previously topped the bill in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2016. The date will mark the band’s only European festival appearance of the year.

 


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LIVE hires Ross Patel as green impact consultant

UK live music business trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) has announced the appointment of Ross Patel as its first green impact consultant.

The Whole Entertainment co-founder and CEO, who joined the Music Managers Forum as a board member in 2021 to help advocate for climate action, will be tasked with leading the initiatives of LIVE Green, the organisation’s expert group on sustainability issues.

Patel will be responsible for facilitating cooperation across the organisation’s membership, while ensuring knowledge sharing and support can be provided to help sector-wide efforts. They will work closely in their new role with LIVE CEO Jon Collins.

“We have worked with Ross for some time now in various capacities and have always been impressed with their energy, knowledge and commitment to sustainability issues,” says Collins. “This new role will see Ross leading and further amplifying the work of LIVE Green and helping us in our mission to green the live music sector as quickly, fairly and effectively as possible.”

“I’m excited to continue the work I’ve been doing on sustainable touring and green clauses for live booking contracts, now in a formal capacity”

Patel is also chief strategy officer at UMA Entertainment Group, whose projects include EarthAid Live and HERO The App and who oversaw the curation of the 2201 UMA x COP26 event in Glasgow.

In addition, they co-founded and held the position of operations director at London based creative marketing agency, Sweetshop Media, whose clients include Nokia, Oppo, Ellesse, Bondly/Forj, and Sam Branson.

“My role as an MMF board member and representative within the LIVE Green group has very fortunately given me the opportunity to work closely with the brilliant LIVE team over the past couple of years,” adds Patel. “I’m excited to continue the work I’ve been doing on sustainable touring and green clauses for live booking contracts, now in a formal capacity.”

A range of industry figures recently shared their sustainability priorities for the live music business to mark Earth Day 2024.

 


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US festival to be powered by 100% renewable energy

California’s Mill Valley Music Festival says it will be the first US festival powered by 100% renewable energy.

The coming weekend’s edition (11-12 May) – featuring Fleet Foxes, Greensky Bluegrass and Three Sacred Souls – will operate solely on mobile zero-emission batteries produced by local firm Moxion, which partly powered the 2023 edition.

By switching from diesel generators to Moxion batteries, the San Francisco event will reportedly avoid around 4.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Founded in 2022, Mill Valley Music Festival is organised by the Noise Pop Industries and Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce which called the move “a crucial leap forward”.

“Our city has identified reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a major reduction strategy, along with renewable energy, energy efficiency, EV infrastructure, green building and waste reduction,” says Jim Welte, executive director, Mill Valley Chamber.

“We hope this inspires more eco-friendly practices across the board”

“We’re thrilled to be the exclusive energy source for MVMF this year,” says Paul Huelskamp, CEO and co-founder of Moxion, which also powers events including Californian music festival BottleRock and TOUR PGA Championship.

“Moxion was born right here in Mill Valley, so it’s incredible to see the festival become a sustainability leader. We hope this inspires more eco-friendly practices across the board.”

Mill Valley Music Festival follows in the footsteps of Barcelona festival Cruïlla, which last year was powered solely by electricity from the grid.

Similarly, the main stage at Ireland’s Electric Picnic 2024 will be powered by the grid, while British band Massive Attack has announced an outdoor show powered by battery and solar power.

AGF (A Greener Future) recently hailed “significant areas of improvement” in festival sustainability after surveying more than 40 European events. The sustainability not-for-profit released its Festival Sustainability Report, comprising data analysis on mobility, food & drink, water & sanitation, power & fuel use, waste & recycling, and carbon emissions at events on the continent.

Last month, a range of industry figures shared their sustainability priorities for the live music business to mark Earth Day 2024.

 


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Earth Day 2024: Live’s sustainability priorities

A range of industry figures have shared their sustainability priorities for the live music business to mark Earth Day 2024 – an annual event highlighting the importance of environmental protection.

While the sector continues to raise its game on green issues, there remains plenty of room for improvement. It was announced earlier this year that a comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint is being conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-funded by Coldplay, Live Nation and Warner Music Group.

The report will suggest practical solutions to reduce the environmental impact of live music events “at every level,” from pubs and clubs to stadiums.

Last week, meanwhile, The O2 in London revealed that more than 545.9 tonnes of carbon were extracted across The 1975’s four headline concerts in February. The shows marked the world’s first carbon-removed arena events and took place in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8 and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future (AGF).

“This year is all about firming up our path to net zero,” AEG Europe director of sustainability Sam Booth tells IQ. “After the success of our recent pilot series of carbon removed arena events at The O2, we now need to undertake some detailed work around our general gas usage, as well as figuring out our approach to dealing with fan travel and continue working with brand partners to address the emissions of the products we sell in the arena.

“Education is also an incredibly important area of focus, so we’re rolling out training to all our employees to ensure they know how to make more sustainable choices in their day-to-day roles.”

“How sustainable we can be with our power, transport, water, food, etc, all depends on policies, legislation, taxes and subsidies that make better choices possible”

Elsewhere, in January, sustainability initiative Vision:2025 and Julie’s Bicycle launched a 12-month pilot with 10 local authorities to test how the Green Events Code of Practice (GECOP) can be used to embed sustainability within local authority processes.

“We’re all looking for a simple answer to the question: What does good look like?” Vision:2025 chair Chris Johnson, co-founder of the UK’s Shambala Festival, tells IQ. “Our priority for 2024 is to test the new Green Events Code of Practice with local authorities, and take steps toward establishing an acceptable minimum best practice for sustainability across the UK that promoters, supply chain and local authorities understand.”

AGF (A Greener Future) recently hailed “significant areas of improvement” in festival sustainability after surveying more than 40 European events. The sustainability not-for-profit released its Festival Sustainability Report, comprising data analysis on mobility, food & drink, water & sanitation, power & fuel use, waste & recycling, and carbon emissions at events on the continent.

“In 2024 the largest number of the global population will be called to vote,” says AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill, who organises the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI). “How sustainable we can be with our power, transport, water, food, etc, all depends on policies, legislation, taxes and subsidies that make better choices possible. We need to have governments in power who will understand and support a just transition to a green economy.

“In the UK, voters now have to use photo ID to vote, which is a hurdle for many. We’re supporting #JustVote24 to help young and disadvantaged people to get their voter ID if they don’t have a passport/driving license or old persons bus pass, and to then get them to vote. The music campaign is called #crashtheparty and we urge everyone in live music to get behind this and local equivalents.”

Germany-based Holger Jan Schmidt, who heads up pan-European think-tank GO Group (Green Operations Europe) and is  general secretary of the European festival association Yourope, points out the latter organisation has adapted its approach a little of late.

“The focus today is less on honouring the spearheads of sustainable festivals and more on making the sector future-proof at large”

“Although we continue to present the Green Operations Award, the focus today is less on honouring the spearheads of sustainable festivals and more on making the sector future-proof at large,” says Schmidt, speaking to IQ. “Yourope today offers freely usable tools that enable every festival out there to position itself accordingly, train the team and benefit from the great expertise of the frontrunners. Examples of this are our European Green festival Roadmap 2030 and the Future Festival Tools with self-assessment tool, e-learning course and best practice guide.

“For this purpose, our association works with both the expert organisations in the live entertainment industry and with the festivals directly in order to identify their needs and develop tailor-made measures.”

In a further notable development, six Spanish music promoters – Advanced Music, Bring The Noise, Centris, elrow, The Music Republic and Sharemusic! – have inked strategic sponsorship agreements with Madrid-based global energy company Repsol to jointly promote the use of different multi-energy solutions and reduce their CO2 footprint.

The agreement initially covers 77 events managed by the firms in Spain and Portugal, rising to 89. Festivals such as the FIB, Arenal Sound, Sonar Lisbon and O son de Camiño will use 100% renewable fuels, among other solutions, to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Meanwhile, venue management company ASM Global, which operates more than 50 green certified venues, has marked Earth Month 2024 by naming Lindsay Arell as chief sustainability officer as it ramps up its efforts to convert its 400-strong venue portfolio to “the most sustainable on earth”.

After founding her own company, Honeycomb Strategies, Arell led the development of the ASM Global ACTS sustainability plan and is a past chair of both the Events Industry Council Sustainability Committee (EIC) and ASTM Venue Sustainability Standard. Arell’s new role forms part of ASM’s sustainability goals, announced in 2023, which include the elimination of single use plastic.

“Sustainability should be the cause of our lifetime in our industry”

“I’m thrilled at the chance to spearhead ASM’s sustainability initiatives working alongside our teams and communities across our over 400 global venues.” says Arell. “By providing our venue teams with the necessary knowledge and resources, we can accelerate the progress of our programme significantly.”

Just last week plans were announced for ASM to join with reuse platform r.World to rapidly introduce reusable service ware in venues throughout ASM’s portfolio.

Fellow venue giant Oak View Group (OVG) welcomes the world’s second carbon-neutral arena this month in Manchester’s Co-op Live, following the firm’s Climate Pledge Arena, with UBS Arena slated to follow. Speaking at ILMC 36 in London, OVG chief Tim Leiweke said: “Climate Pledge can’t be the only carbon-neutral arena in the world or else [the industry] has failed. We as an industry should lead this charge… sustainability should be the cause of our lifetime in our industry.”

He added: “We as a company are going to continue to build these arenas and make sustainability a priority and a way of life in our culture and then hopefully, it will inspire our industry to come along with us.”

OVG COO Francesca Bodie agreed: “Sustainability is part of our core DNA and we want to make sure that we’re not only championing but challenging our industry to get better.”

In addition, REVERB, which partners with artists, festivals, and venues to reduce their environmental footprint, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Working with artist partners like Billie Eilish, The 1975, Odesza, Harry Styles, Dave Matthews Band, Boygenius, Jack Johnson, The Lumineers, Dead & Company, Tame Impala, and many more, REVERB has created and executed comprehensive sustainability and fan engagement programmes on over 350 tours, 60 festivals, and 7,000 concerts.

Positive impacts to date include neutralising 375,000+ tons of CO2e, raising over $12m for environmental causes, hosting over 5,000 NGOs in fan-facing Action Villages, and preventing the use of over 4m single-use plastic bottles at concerts.

 


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O2 removes 500+ tonnes of carbon during The 1975 gigs

The O2 in London has announced that more than 545.9 tonnes of carbon were extracted across The 1975’s four headline concerts in February.

The shows marked the world’s first carbon-removed arena events and took place in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8 and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future (AGF).

Using a portfolio of “scientifically verifiable” carbon removal methods (including enhanced rock weathering and biochar), The O2 (owned by AEG Europe) and CUR8 physically extracted the 136.46 tonnes of carbon generated by each event from the atmosphere and durably store it out of harm’s way.

The pilot events have resulted in a blueprint for a more sustainable live event model utilising carbon removals, which is being offered to all incoming promoters at the venue and is being planned to launch across several other AEG venues.

“With the success of this world-first pilot series of arena events, we’ve proven that it’s possible to run an arena-size live show which doesn’t compromise on a great fan experience but still accounts for the impact it has on the environment,” says Sam Booth, director of sustainability at AEG Europe.

“We hope this serves as a wakeup call to the wider industry that carbon removals are a viable solution that can be used to operate live events but they need buy-in from everyone in the live ecosystem in order to be a success – from venues and promoters right the way through to artists themselves. We’re fully committed to continuing to innovate and find even more ways to make our world-class events across AEG Europe more sustainable, as we strive for a low-carbon future for the live industry.”

Mark Stevenson, co-founder and chief impact officer at CUR8, adds: “The real heroes here are the teams at AEG Europe and AGF, who are working to reduce emissions as much as possible and then committing to remove the rest – and in doing so, helping fund the carbon removals operating system that the planet (and every organisation on it) will need to reach net-zero. Importantly, The O2 and AGF have demonstrated the art of the possible. We cannot have a live music industry where the only route to net-zero is to not exist. By using carbon removals to mitigate the complex ‘audience travel’ or ‘scope 3 emissions’ problem, all within the existing business model of live events, these concerts demonstrate a possible future – one that speaks to life well lived on a planet well loved.”

“We hope this serves as a wakeup call to the wider industry that carbon removals are a viable solution for live events”

The O2 has revealed that 75.7% of emissions from the concerts came from fan travel, which was covered by a combination of venue investment and a 90p contribution from fans, incorporated into the original ticket price.

Just 3.95% of the nightly carbon footprint came from arena operations, driven predominantly by electricity usage and staff travel. The low emission figure is thanks to The O2’s significant investment in energy efficiency, with the recent installation of LED lighting and screens across the arena saving over 300,000kwh of energy in 2023 alone.

The O2’s hospitality partner, Levy UK + Ireland, accounted for the removal costs across their operations, with carbon emissions for food and beverages across each show coming in at 7.46%, of which 85% was down to beverages. The overall figure was aided by the introduction of several recent initiatives, including a new food menu which generated 30% less carbon compared to the regular offering, as well as the launch of Notpla serveware. This 100% biodegradable product has a 70% lower carbon footprint than standard serveware and can be processed in The O2’s on-site biodigester and wormery.

In addition, The O2 has invested in a permanent reusable cup scheme and cup-washing machines powered by electricity from renewable resources, further reducing waste and emissions at the venue.

Alongside hosting the pilot events, The O2 and CUR8 each donated an additional 1% on top of the cost for each tonne of carbon removed to EarthPercent, a climate foundation geared towards identifying and funding impactful climate solutions in the live entertainment industry.

The O2’s other green initiatives include launching its own Green Rider in 2023 – a document intended as a blueprint to make incoming tours and productions at the venue more sustainable.

The 20,000-capacity venue was also the first arena in England to receive Greener Arena accreditation, awarded by AGF. Work is now underway at AEG Europe’s Uber Arena and Barclays Arena in Germany to undergo similar accreditation.

 


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AGF hails improvement in festival sustainability

AGF (A Greener Future) has hailed ‘significant areas of improvement’ in festival sustainability after surveying more than 40 European events.

The sustainability non-profit today released its Festival Sustainability Report, comprising data analysis on mobility, food & drink, water & sanitation, power & fuel use, waste & recycling, and carbon emissions at events on the continent.

Per the report, significant areas of improvement include an increase in bans on single-use plastic serveware (from 54% in 2022 to 75% in 2023), a reduction in average waste per person per day (from 0.75 kg to 0.5 kg), and more festivals going fully vegan or vegetarian.

The results further highlighted the significant impact of travel and transport, with an increase in reported plane travel. However, the share of domestic artists increased from 61% in 2022 to 68% in 2023 and the average share of attendees using public transport to attend rural festivals increased from 16% to 19%.

After audience transport, food and drink were often found to be the second largest source of emissions and festivals that moved to a fully meat-free event reduced their food-related emissions by over 60% on average.

“We’re on a path to net zero but the path just got steeper, so we need to keep upping our game”

The report also found that an increasing number (38%) of festivals are switching to renewable fuels such as HVO, though AGF points out that these fuels still generate emissions and air pollution. “Reducing overall fuel use and improving the availability and affordability of hybrid, battery, and grid systems remains a key opportunity to decarbonise the sector,” it says. Meanwhile, 15% of festivals used grid electricity for over 90% of their power needs.

Waste per person per day at festivals has been reduced from 0.75kg to 0.5 kg on average, while onsite recycling separation rates increased from 38% (2022) to 46% (2023).

The vast majority (75%) of festivals still use some portable chemical toilets onsite, with just 12% using compost toilets for over 3/4 of their sanitation demand.

The collection of accurate data on build, decor, staging and merchandise materials purchased remains a challenge, according to AGF, as well as engaging with sponsors and hospitality areas to provide the necessary information and to assess their impact. AGF says it is working closely with clients and the sector to bridge these gaps.

“2024 is the 18th year that AGF is assessing festival impacts worldwide,” says Claire O’Neill, CEO, AGF.

“It’s good to see improved understanding, data, and performance from events. We are seeing progress, but more still needs to be done to now additionally adapt to changing and more extreme weather. There is a huge opportunity for collaboration with other sectors such as transport, energy, water and food who all have targets for net zero and protecting ecosystems. New ways of doing things need dynamic and attractive platforms to reach people, which is what festivals are. While progress is good, the background is changing, adversely – we’re on a path to net zero but the path just got steeper, so we need to keep upping our game.”

The full Festival Sustainability Report can be downloaded here.

 


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NorthSide emissions down 32% since going meat-free

Danish festival NorthSide has reduced its CO2 emissions by 32% since going meat-free.

The Down the Drain-promoted event has exclusively offered plant-based food since 2022 in what organisers called a “sustainable quantum leap”.

The Aarhus-based festival launched in 2010 with a goal to be “the greenest of the big festivals” and has since introduced several sustainability initiatives including switching from diesel generators to power from the electricity grid.

Discussing the impact of going meat-free, Peter Skoven, head of F&B at NorthSide told Dansk Live: “When you make an initiative as large as this, a number of unknowns are included. It is about everything from information – both internal and external – to identifying consequences and derived effects.

“When you make an initiative as large as this, a number of unknowns are included”

“The tasks around new stand holders, audience flows and purchase patterns are some of the bigger tasks, not to forget the mixed reception from the media. A decision in this league means that most things are up for grabs, which is why it is difficult to single out certain areas as the most difficult.”

Giving advice to other festivals considering going plant-based, Skoven added: “Decide to do it and then do it! It must be made a priority for the organisation to succeed and it requires everyone to be on the journey. Select the good external partners and form a ring of support so that the entire value chain can contribute to the transformation.”

The most recent edition of the festival was Highly Commended by A Greener Festival, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of music festivals and events.

NorthSide returns to Ådalen in Aarhus between 6–8 June with Kaytranada, Massive Attack, Slowdive, The Smile, Troye Sivan and more.

 


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Electric Picnic’s main stage to be powered by renewables

Ireland’s Electric Picnic has announced that this year the main stage of the festival will be connected to the grid and powered by renewable energy.

This marks the first time a festival of its kind in the UK and Ireland will install mains power to reduce its carbon footprint.

The grid power will ultimately reduce carbon emissions associated with powering the main stage of the festival in 2024 and reduce the need to use temporary generators.

The festival’s promoter Festival Republic (FR) will submit a planning application for a substation and if successful, work will begin later this year.

Electric Picnic’s bid for a greener festival reinforces the commitment of FR’s Green Nation Charter to power its festivals with 100% renewable power by 2030.

This reinforces the commitment of FR’s Green Nation Charter to power its festivals with 100% renewable power by 2030

“The installation of our first grid connection is a key contributor to our goal of reducing carbon emissions associated with the festival by 50% by 2030 in line with our Green Nation Charter,” says Melvin Benn, managing director Festival Republic.

“I hope that by leading the way and sharing what we have learned, festival goers can have an amazing time at Electric Picnic safe in the knowledge that we are doing everything we can to minimise the impact on the only planet we have got.”

Thomas Cosby, Stradbally Hall, adds: “This Festival Republic initiative ties in well with the estate’s programme towards carbon neutrality; It complements our existing renewable energy installations, including biomass, hydroelectric, solar and sustainable forestry management.”

Electric Picnic has been staged since 2004 at Stradbally Hall in Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland. The festival returns this year between 16–18 August and while the lineup is yet to be announced, tickets have already sold out.

 


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Oak View Group: ‘We’re coming to London’

Oak View Group’s chief executive revealed plans to build “the greatest arena in the world” in London, during yesterday’s ILMC.

Tim Leiweke told delegates that the venue giant will plant its flag in England’s capital city, which he called “the greatest market in the world for music”.

“London has the O2 and Wembley – it needs another great arena,” he said during the Hotseat interview, accompanied by his daughter and the company’s COO, Francesca Bodie.

“The west side of London needs a new arena and the city can handle two or three arenas,” he continued. “If you look at LA, they have the Intuit Dome, The Forum, Crypto, Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre and Honda Center down in Anaheim. So technically, you have six buildings in the marketplace. And by the way, we have the new Acrisure Arena down in Palm Springs. So, look at the competition in that marketplace.

“London needs an arena as good or better than OVG’s Co-op Live or Intuit Dome or the Sphere or Madison Square Garden. London’s the greatest market in the world for music, period, end of story. Why don’t we build the greatest arena in the world for London?”

The CEO shared his admiration for Jim Dolan, CEO of Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which opened the 20,000-capacity Sphere in Las Vegas in September 2023 with U2’s residency.

“London has the O2 and Wembley – it needs another great arena”

“I’m inspired by what he did,” said Leiweke. “I have so much respect for Jim taking that kind of risk and so much respect for U2 stepping onto that stage – it took guts to carry that belief.”

Leiweke revealed that OVG, which owns and operates more than 300 venues worldwide, has also set its sights on Singapore.

The firm’s portfolio includes Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York, and Moody Center in Austin, Texas and the Co-op Live development in Manchester, UK.

Discussing Co-op Live, Leiweke said: “It’s the largest single investment in the history of our industry internationally. It’s the most expensive arena ever built outside of North America.”

The venue, which is due to open in April, will be the world’s second carbon-neutral arena after the firm’s Climate Pledge Arena, with UBS Arena slated to follow.

Leiweke added: “Climate Pledge can’t be the only carbon-neutral arena in the world or else [the industry] has failed. We as an industry should lead this charge… sustainability should be the cause of our lifetime in our industry.”

Lieweke said that Co-op Live will be the firm’s “prototype” going forward

“We as a company are going to continue to build these arenas and make sustainability a priority and a way of life in our culture and then hopefully, it will inspire our industry to come along with us.”

Bodie agreed, adding: “Sustainability is part of our core DNA and we want to make sure that we’re not only championing but challenging our industry to get better”.

Lieweke said that Co-op Live will be the firm’s “prototype” going forward when they’re building venues in Vienna, São Paulo and Singapore.

“It’s my favourite building,” he said. “I’ve had the great privilege of being a part of building 20 arenas and this is the best arena I’ve ever seen.

“The way we’ve designed our nine private clubs is economically what will drive our ability to privatise this building. We didn’t take one pound from anybody, not the city, not the UK authorities, we didn’t accept any subsidies of any kind. We’ve committed close to 50 million pounds back to the community, to you, to music, to ultimately impacting our community through the Co-op foundation over the course of our lease. It’s going to revolutionise our businesses.”

The two executives also discussed the importance of the recently announced arena in Lagos, Nigeria, and the challenges of operating in an underdeveloped market.

“I predict 12 more arenas are gonna get built by us or somebody else in Africa because we’ll show people that it works”

“We’ve identified Africa, from a content perspective, as an important strategic investment because they have so many great artists but nowhere to play,” said Bodie.

“The key was local partners, who made us aware of this healthy dose of scepticism because there’s been a lot of promises that haven’t been fulfilled.”

Leiweke added: “We could sit here for a half hour and tell you the obstacles that we had to go through. We’re fortunate that the chairman is so well respected there that he’s been trying to get our money into Nigeria, which is really hard. Trying to get our money out of Nigeria, nearly impossible. Dealing with inflation is unbelievable right now, as is the cost of goods. It is a risky move, by the way. Live Nation jumped in with us as well because what we do understand is that it’s a huge opportunity to grow music and Africa and Nigeria.

“I predict 12 more arenas are gonna get built by us or somebody else in Africa because we’ll show people that it works and when it does work, it can be a pride point of that entire community. Wait to see what it does for emerging artists that are coming out of Nigeria. It’s going to change and give them a platform and a voice.”

 


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