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Korea concert market showing signs of recovery

Concert ticket sales in Korea are rebounding following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

A total of 353 concerts were planned for Q2, up 43.5% from last year’s 246, with ticket sales jumping 267% year-on-year, reports Yonhap.

South Korea eased its coronavirus protocols last month and lifted its ban on clapping and cheering at gigs.

“Because the number of spectators that can be accommodated per show has increased as Covid-19 rules, such as sitting apart and the capacity limit of spectators, have disappeared, many popular concerts were sold out,” says a statement by local online reservation service Interpark.

“Pent-up demand from consumers seems to have been unleashed”

The most popular events were K-pop artist’s Sung Si-kyung’s first live concerts in three years, followed by the annual Seoul Jazz Festival. Six of the top 20 best-selling shows were outdoor concerts.

“Pent-up demand from consumers seems to have been unleashed with the resumption of outdoor music festivals as they prefer festivals that make them feel like they are out for picnics to those in closed spaces at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet,” adds the service.

Prior to restrictions being lifted, fans were handed plastic clappers to emulate crowd noise at BTS’ Permission To Dance On Stage – Seoul three-night residency in March, which marked the K-pop group’s in-person concert return in their homeland.

Just 15,000 people per night were permitted to attend the 70,000-cap Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul on 10, 12-13 March due to social distancing restrictions. But with the number of Covid cases stabilising, most measures were dropped.

 


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Danish festivals report strong resurgence

Ticket sales for many festivals in Denmark this summer are on a par with pre-Covid levels, according to promoters.

Events including Roskilde Festival, Smukfest and Copenhell are already sold out, with a number of others reporting near sell-outs.

Dansk Live adds that ticket sales are also booming at Northside and Tinderbox, with both on course to break their previous records.

“In terms of sales, both festivals are going great,” says Pernille Høll, head of marketing at Down the Drain, which runs the two festivals. “Northside gets its second or best year in history. Tinderbox gets its best.”

“It is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music”

Elsewhere, Jelling Music Festival is also on track for an impressive comeback.

“We can clearly see that people are really looking forward to getting on the grass again,” says co-founder and manager Lars Charlie Mortensen. “We see this clearly in ticket sales. People buy all kinds of tickets at the moment – both day tickets and for the whole festival, and we expect to get a full house.”

Dansk Live’s head of secretariat Esben Marcher is delighted with how the market is rebounding.

“We can only interpret the high sales figures as meaning that the audience still loves live music,” he says. “After some hard years for all live organisers, it is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music.”

“It is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved”

While Nibe Festival manager Peter Møller Madsen reports similarly strong sales, he observes that teenagers have been slower to buy tickets than in the pre-pandemic era – a trend he attributes to the two-year break.

“They have not inherited the tradition,” he says. “However, we believe that they will probably come, so we are very confident.”

Marcher adds: “Although overall ticket sales at the Danish festivals are doing well, it is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved. We have been without the great festival experiences for two years, and thus there are two new vintages who have not yet been to a festival, and thus may not be so eager to get tickets. However, that trend will hopefully improve over time.”

 


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ILMC 34: Inside ticketing’s new normal

International ticketing executives have given a mixed picture on live music markets around the world as the business bids to pick up where it left off pre-pandemic.

ILMC’s Ticketing: All change please! session heard from Ticketmaster UK’s Sarah Slater, Marcia Titley of Eventim Norway & Sweden, John Talbot of AXS Europe, Dice’s Amy Oldham and TicketSwap’s James Fleury, with Michael Hosking of Singapore-based Midas Promotions offering a promoter’s perspective.

Quizzed on the state of play by chair Richard Howle of The Ticket Factory, the panel reported contrasting fortunes to date.

“In Scandinavia, restrictions were lifted in December in Denmark, in January in Norway, and February in Sweden, so we’re about three, four months in,” noted Titley. “When the restrictions were lifted, ticket sales jumped, which was great, we were all thrilled. And then they kind of plateaued.”

“We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped”

While observing a week-by-week improvement, she added that Covid has appeared to have triggered a change in purchasing habits, with a shift towards buying tickets later in the day.

“They’re waiting, and I think we can all understand why,” she said. “I think we’re all holding our breath a little bit wondering if some new variant’s going to pop up tomorrow. And shows aren’t selling out, so that sense of urgency isn’t there.

“One thing we’re starting to see in Scandinavia as well is uncertainty if shows and festivals are actually going to happen. Just recently, last week, one of our biggest festivals in Norway had to cancel because of Covid complications… So this has also affected consumer behaviour.

“Also, I think we’re trying to find ways to get people to go back to live. I think people have got a little bit stuck on their couches and we need to try to find a way to get them to remember what live was all about. If we can get them into the shows then we will be able to build up that kind of credibility in the market. We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped.”

“One of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic”

Citing sold-out stadium shows by Justin Bieber in Singapore and Malaysia, Hosking stressed that demand was visible for certain artists, but returned to the theme of audience lethargy.

“The real test will be maybe the B and C-listers,” he offered. “I think one of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic. The old days of having to do everything immediately seems to have waned. And of course, Asia’s not one country, it is several countries and there are still very different restrictions about touring. But Justin is living proof that if the people want you bad enough they’ll go out and buy tickets.”

Talbot, who joined AXS last summer, said the business had faced an “existential threat” and attempted to put its travails into perspective.

“To use a hospitalisation analogy, we were hit by a truck and now we are in the recovery from that period, and it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve got a cost of living crisis. People can see the alternatives to going out – because they were denied so long, they’ve got other options and they can entertain themselves in different ways.

“We do need to teach the market that going out, congregating, seeing live events is a really, really important part of our culture and they should come back to it. But those challenges are nowhere near as existential as what we were facing only a matter of months ago, so I think there’s a lot of reason to be very cheerful.”

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020”

He added: “We’re finding that a lot of our best customers are holding four or five tickets to shows that are yet to play off… So how do you sell to the market new events, when they’ve already got commitments, and sometimes they’ve forgotten that they’re holding these tickets?

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020. So when that clog disappears, as it will, I think that’s when we can really start to see new on sales not being buffeted by those market forces.”

Slater and Oldham suggested the state of affairs in the UK was more favourable across the board, in part, due to being able to press ahead with a partial festival season in 2021.

Slater, who received the Golden Ticketer gong at the 2022 Arthur Awards, pointed to Ticketmaster’s stellar business in the final quarter of last year.

“We were really able to capture that pent-up demand that the pandemic brought,” she said. “Q4 was absolutely huge: We had Reading & Leeds sell out; Creamfields sell out; we’ve got new sites for festivals; there are lots of tickets out there, but we’re selling all our tickets as well.

“We’re really positive; we were lucky that we got the summer [2021] in the UK, so we’re in a slightly different position to everyone else.”

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets”

“The market’s certainly buoyant,” added Oldham, Dice’s VP of content, Europe. “We had over a million people go out in London last month, which is extraordinary. The place where it’s the most buzzy is with emerging talent – the waitlist for artists like Fred Again is astronomical. People are buying really early because they’ve got the protection of knowing that they can give their ticket back if they can’t go.”

James Fleury of price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap said the Amsterdam-based firm had already twice broken company records in the first four months of 2022, and backed up Oldham’s point on flexibility.

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets,” he said. “Buying a ticket anymore isn’t necessarily a commitment to attend that specific event. It is for the top four or five artists that I really love, but for the other artists where we maybe like one single or a couple of tracks… I think it’s important that we also promote that flexibility.

“Our challenge this year as a company is to educate both fans, but also partners – promoters and festivals – about why having that choice and flexibility is important on the fans’ side.”

 


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UK faces “devastating loss” over cancellations, no-shows

The UK live industry is contending with up to 50% audience no shows and widespread cancellations due to Omicron, a snap industry survey has shown.

The survey, conducted by LIVE, found that 70% of organisers were forced to cancel shows due to take place last week. Jessie Ware, Steps, Paul Weller, Coldplay and Lil Nas X are among the artists forced to cancel due to the virus.

Among the major artists that have this week cancelled remaining shows for 2021 are also The Charlatans (five dates), Supergrass (three), Stereophonics (two), Deacon Blue (two), Del Amitri (three), The Libertines (two) and Amy Macdonald (one).

Cancellations also extend into next year, with 50% of venues having already cancelled shows for January and February– some as many as 10 each – and more expected to follow, according to LIVE’s survey.

Cancellations also extend into next year, with 50% of venues having already cancelled shows for January and February

MØ and Brockhampton are among the artists that have already cancelled or postponed UK/EU tours scheduled for 2022 as a result of concerns around Omicron.

The trade association says that the widespread cancellations, alongside a high rate of audience dropouts, are leading to a “devastating” rise in lost income for the live music industry.

These losses are compounded by drastic falls in tickets sales, with expected ticket sales for 2022 live music falling by over a third in the last few weeks, the association adds.

Lucy Noble, National Arenas Association chair and artistic director at Royal Albert Hall, says ticket sales for the London venue have “fallen off a cliff in the past fortnight due to the climate of uncertainty”.

“Ticket sales have fallen off a cliff in the past fortnight due to the climate of uncertainty”

“We have already had a £20m loan from the government but we don’t want to accumulate any more debt,” she tells IQ.

Mark Davyd, CEO of The Music Venue Trust, warns that the position of the industry is taking “a dramatic turn for the worst”.

“Without swift action from the government the entire sector risks collapse within weeks not months,” he tells IQ. “We are currently organising the sector to make applications for all available funding, but more than 50% of grassroots music venues across the UK do not meet the criteria to qualify for the funding currently available.

“The government needs to act on VAT, business rates, retail, hospitality & leisure grants and additional restrictions grants without delay. None of this is new; the government did an excellent job of preventing music venue closures in the last 23 months. We simply need that support reopened to deal with the latest phase of the pandemic.”

“Without swift action from the government the entire sector risks collapse within weeks not months”

Commenting on the snap survey, a spokesperson from LIVE said: “These statistics paint a bleak picture for the sector which is why it’s absolutely vital that the government provides additional support immediately. We need urgent assistance to avoid the live music industry running into the ground, forcing venues to shut up shop and a Christmas of Misery with job losses, and freelancers and artists without work.

“We also face a double-whammy as next year’s sales take a nosedive, meaning organisers do not have the cash needed to cover soaring costs as they struggle to stay afloat while operating at a loss.”

LIVE, on behalf of more than 3,100 businesses in the sector, is now calling for urgent financial support from government, including:

 


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Execs talk talent exodus, sales and no-shows

The live music industry’s staffing shortage, returning customer confidence and no-shows at concerts were high on the agenda in IQ’s latest Recovery Sessions event.

Chaired by the European Arenas Association Olivier Toth, the webinar explored the recovery of the arena market with the help of a heavyweight line-up of executives, including Coralie Berael (Forest National Arena), Tony Goldring (WME), Steve Homer, (AEG Presents), Hans Dhondt (Rock Werchter) and Paul Twomey (Bio Security Systems).

A key issue of debate was the loss of seasoned backstage workers to other industries during the pandemic.

“All venues and festivals are going to come together at some point and try to find their usual people, but a lot of them have left that pool,” said Berael. “We’re going to have to replace people and they’ll need training. They don’t have the necessary experience.

“The loss of talent is quite a concern. I’m not only worried about the quantity of staff, but especially the quality of staff and we are having to start a lot more upfront in finding the right people. Usually, even a week before, you can make a miracle and find the right people, but now you might need to start a lot earlier… It’s a real risk to business continuity and it’s one of the challenges that we’re facing at the moment.”

Homer suggested the issue had been exacerbated in the UK by Brexit.

“We had some issue trying to secure catering companies because they were struggling with staffing,” he said. “We’ve got a double whammy here with Brexit having an influence on people leaving the UK as well.

“There was a severe level of burnout, because we went from literally nothing in venues to almost 80/90%. People had been working for supermarkets or courier services, and then all of a sudden they’re thrown back into working full time in venues, operating as security, or stewarding, or local crew. So it’s been a tough baptism, shall we say, to come back.

“Luckily, the people that are in the industry are determined to make it successful, so a lot of people have gone the extra yard, or the extra mile in a lot of cases, to make sure that events have been happening.”

We’re quite confident for the next few months, but it will take time

Berael reported that, after a slow summer, ticket sales for shows were on the rise, with younger people especially keen to return to live events.

“Since there are a few mass events happening, we can see that the trust is growing again,” she said. “We see that in the curve of the ticket sales. It’s like people were waiting to see whether it went well, and whether there were long queues, etc. So we’re quite confident for the next few months, but it will take time.”

She added: “We communicated probably 500% more with our audience than we used to, just to make sure, in the first instance, that they knew the show was going to happen, to reassure them in a way.

“All the emails about how [the entry system was going to work] came afterwards… explaining to them and educating them about how it was going to work, so that they could already imagine the journey.”

As revealed by IQ last month, promoters have reported the rate of no-shows by ticket-holders at concerts has been far higher than usual.

“At the start of September, we were experiencing quite high levels of no shows – anything between 25% and 35% in some markets,” said Homer. “It does seem to have settled down a bit better this month. The no-show rate is dropping to between 10% and 15%.

“I’ve often equated this whole experience to the feeling of if you go to an outdoor swimming pool. There’s always someone that will go in first, and when that person surfaces, everyone on the side goes, ‘what was it like?’ And I think there’s an element of that that comes along with shows as well.

“It’s all about confidence, and I think the longer we go on without any further restrictions imposed or anything like that, the more comfortable people will be going to shows, going into those indoor environments, with mass audiences.”

With shows that have been announced more recently, you would expect the no-show numbers to be a lot less

Goldring shared an alternative theory for the high no-show level.

“I think we have different situations,” he said. “With a tour that went on sale in 2019 and has been rescheduled a number of times, some people just kind of forget about it, or maybe they’ve lost interest. So I think you’re going to have that scenario.

“With shows that have been announced more recently, you would expect the no-show numbers to be a lot less.”

He continued: “The thing that’s really put a smile on my face is that artists have just loved performing again. They’ve been stuck at home like all of us and, suddenly, they’ve had that interaction with the audience that they haven’t had for so long, and they’ve loved it. So that’s very positive for all of us.”

The Recovery Sessions, supported by ASM Global and Goodtill, is a series of fortnightly webinars designed to keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. All Recovery Sessions events are free to access for IQ subscribers.

To subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month, click here.

 


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Summer’s gone: EU festivals talk the season that was

The rising cost of putting on large-scale live events and difficulties in booking top-tier talent were among the challenges overcome by festival organisers this year, according to a cross-section of Europe’s major music events.

Ahead of this year’s festival season, several festival organisers and associations told IQ that 2019 was shaping up to be a slow year. Across the board, they said, sell-outs were down and sales were lower, and many complained of a lack of top-shelf talent on tour. A typical sentiment was that of Jean-Paul Roland, festival director of French rock festival Eurockéennes, who said “the season seems more subdued than last year”, with organisers facing “more difficulties to reach a point of profitability”.

IQ’s annual analysis of Europe’s festival market, the European Festival Report, will return for 2019 in the end-of-year issue #87, providing an in-depth look at capacity and attendance, ticketing and pricing, VIP sales, challenges and concerns, new technology and much more.

But the end of 2019 is (thankfully) still some time away. So, with autumn setting in across Europe, and the International Festival Forum (IFF) fast approaching, IQ conducted an informal festival ‘exit poll’ –interviewing one festival apiece in seven key markets to find out how their events panned out, and whether those early-summer doubts were well-founded. Here’s what we learnt…

 


Hurricane/Southside

2019 headliners: Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, Die Toten Hosen, the Cure, Tame Impala
Capacity: 70,000/60,000
Date: 21 to 23 June
Country: Germany

FKP Scorpio managing director Stephan Thanscheidt says he is “more than happy” with the performance of twin festivals Hurricane and Southside this year, attributing a “strong” line-up, investment in the festival grounds and “perfect weather” to the success.

The festivals saw a combined attendance of 380,000 over three days, with around 68,000 visiting Hurricane and 60,000 people attending Southside per day. Next year is looking promising, too: FKP Scorpio celebrated its best-ever presale, selling 40,000 tickets in two days for the 2020 editions of Hurricane and Southside.

Thanscheidt states that bad weather and a higher awareness of the threat of terror attacks have led to a “decreased momentum in demand” across the festival sector over the past few years. The present phase of consolidation, with a few major companies snapping up a majority of events, may leave many “new and inexperienced players” behind, according to the FKP boss.

Rising costs “in all areas” are also affecting the festival and touring sector, particularly in relation to artists fees. “Ticket prices cannot and should not be scaled limitlessly,” says Thanscheidt, “so we need to find ways to optimise and allocate these expenses.”

However, things look bright for FKP, which recently acquired Swedish promoter Woah Dad Live, with Thanscheidt confirming that the provisional results of its festival season “indicate a significant upward trend”.

“Ticket prices cannot and should not be scaled limitlessly, so we need to find ways to optimise and allocate expenses”

Mad Cool

2019 headliners: Lewis Capaldi, the Cure, Bon Iver, the Smashing Pumpkins
Capacity: 80,000
Date: 11 to 13 July
Country: Spain

“This year everything has run smoothly and we are happy about it,” Mad Cool festival director Javier Arnáiz tells IQ.

Live Nation’s Mad Cool festival has seen substantial growth since its inauguration in 2016, increasing capacity by 60%, from 45,000 to 75,000. The rapid growth threw up problems for the Mad Cool team in previous editions.

“Our main goal for this year was to improve on all the incidents that happened in the previous edition, as a result of the massive growth,” says Arnáiz. Thanks to the team’s effort and changes made “through our own process of self-criticism”, the customer experience was much improved this year.

Sales for the festival’s fourth year were lower than usual, which Arnáiz puts down to “the lack of headliners” available. “We have all suffered from this in Europe during 2019,” states the Mad Cool director. “It’s been a tough year for all of us.”

Additionally, last year’s line-up, which featured Pearl Jam, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and Kasabian, “set the bar high”, ensuring “it was not an easy task” to produce a bill to rival it.

Looking to the future, the Mad Cool team say they’re concentrating on strengthening other aspects of the headliner-focused festival. “We are already working on the 2020 edition and we hope we can deliver what is expected from a festival like Mad Cool,” states Arnáiz.

“We have all suffered from a lack of headliners in Europe during 2019”

Pukkelpop

2019 headliners: The National, Post Malone, Prophets of Rage, Twenty One Pilots
Capacity: 60,000
Date: 15 to 19 August
Country: Belgium

Pukkelpop promoter and programmer Chokri Mahassine tells IQ that “we can look back with great satisfaction” following a “completely sold out edition”.

Unlike in previous years, says Mahassine, the Pukkelpop team had no problem shifting tickets this year thanks to a “stellar line-up”, with the balance between musical genres, as well as between young and old acts “clearly paying off”.

Two “unique” shows by rock band the National and a “landslide victory” for fast-rising star Billie Eilish were particular highlights of this year’s festival.

Speaking to IQ in 2017, Mahassine revealed that ticket prices for the independently promoted festival had not changed in four years, although the price of food and drinks tokens did rise. Ticket prices for the past two years have seen a slight increase, from €199 for a weekend pass in 2017 to €205 in 2019.

The Pukkelpop promoter admits that rising prices are due in part to the ever-increasing penchant for comfort among festivalgoers and high expectations in terms of food, transport, accommodation and overall experience. Providing this kind of quality proves more and more difficult each year, says Mahassine, “both on a production and financial level”.

The Pukkelpop promoter admits that rising prices are due in part to the ever-increasing penchant for comfort among festivalgoers

Pohoda

2019 headliners: The 1975, Liam Gallagher, Mac Demarco
Capacity: 30,000
Date: 11 to 13 July
Country: Slovakia

“We had the best year in history,” Michal Kaščák, founder and chief executive of Pohoda, or Peace in English, tells IQ. The festival – Slovakia’s biggest – sold out for the fifth time in its 23-year history and for the second consecutive year.

A packed music programme, an accompanying arts and science schedule, “smooth production” and “super weather” contributed to the festival’s strong performance.

Among a list of high-profile artists including Skepta, the 1975, Liam Gallagher and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kaščák states that Zohra – Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra – were the stand-out act.

Having the band perform at the festival “gave us a strong opportunity to emphasise the goals of Pohoda,” explains Kaščák. “Their story is the perfect base for speaking about gender equality, the power of art to change things for the better and how important it is to stay united.”

A last-minute cancellation by Swedish singer Lykke Li gave an opportunity to “unknown artist” Sink Your Teeth. “We decided to take a risk and let them play on the main stage in prime time,” says Kaščák. “And it was super decision, they did very well.”

The booking process in general is “much harder” than it used to be, says the Pohoda boss, with rising artist fees, late confirmations and the need to clarify running times early on being major factors.

At the end of the day, says Kaščák, “we are an independent festival in a small country, with all the difficulties and advantages that come with that.”

“We are an independent festival in a small country, with all the difficulties and advantages that come with that”

Hellfest

2019 headliners: Slayer, Kiss, Tool, Anthrax
Capacity: 50,000
Date: 21 to 23 June
Country: France

French metal festival Hellfest had one of its “best editions ever”, according to the festival’s communication and event manager Alexxx Rebecq.

Hellfest did not experience any slowdown at all in terms of sales, selling all three-day tickets in 90 minutes, in what Paul-Henri Wauters, co-president of festival association De Concert!, pointed to as an exception for its member festivals this year.

The festival had around 200 bands on the bill for one of its biggest years to date. Organisers also added an extra day for its 2019 edition, to host Slipknot-fronted Knotfest within its festival site.

“We were really proud to welcome the Knotfest festival to Hellfest last year,” Rebecq tells IQ. “Four days in a row was not easy, and certainly exhausted our whole crew, but we did it and what a day it was.”

It was not all plain sailing for the 2019 edition, however, with booking also proving an issue. The last minute cancellation of headliner Manowar was “really tough to manage” and resulted in “a lot of wasted time, pressure and stress” for the Hellfest team.

“We had the support of our crowd though, because they have known us for a long time and obviously know we are capable of welcoming a band like Manowar,” explains Rebecq.

“Manowar’s last minute cancellation was really tough for us to manage”

Sziget

2019 headliners: Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine
Capacity: 80,000
Date: 7 to 13 August
Country: Hungary

Majority Superstruct-owned Sziget festival saw its biggest crowd ever this year, with 60,000 attending Ed Sheeran’s opening-night headline performance.

“Although our overall visitor number throughout the week was a bit less than during the 2018 festival, we still closed our second-most attended festival in the 27-year history of Sziget,” Ákos Remetei Filep, the festival’s sales director, explains.

530,000 people attended the week-long festival, in what was hailed as its most headliner-focused edition yet. Local newspapers reported that organisers spent US$1.7 million more than last year on securing headline acts.

The main stage also became a platform for important topics this year, with talks by the UN Refugee Agency’s Emitithal Mahmoud and former US vice-president and climate-change campaigner Al Gore.

Although attendances have been high in recent years, Filep states that “the biggest challenge is to make [an international audience] aware of the festival and convince them to come”.

“Sziget is a very unique festival experience compared to other events in Europe,” explains Filep, which makes it difficult to sell to international audiences, as “there’s nothing you can really compare it to”.

“The biggest challenge is to make [an international audience] aware of the festival and convince them to come”

Blockfest

2019 headliners: Asap Rocky, Tyga, G-eazy
Capacity: 25,000
Date: 16 to 17 August
Country: Finland

Finland’s largest hip-hop festival, Blockfest, sold out seven weeks prior to the event this year, which saw its largest capacity ever.

“We couldn’t be happier with the turn-out,” Live Nation Finland’s head promoter, Zachris Sundell, tells IQ. “The weather was sunny and all artists – both domestic and international – put on great performances.”

Live Nation took full control of the festival this year, following years of collaboration with the Blockfest team.

Despite concerns regarding the availability of Friday-night headliner Asap Rocky, “everything worked out so he could perform as planned.” The rapper had been forced to cancel multiple festival appearances over the summer, while held on assault charges in Stockholm.

Rocky received the verdict of the trial just days before his Blockfest appearance, avoiding jail time with a two-year suspended sentence.

Taking place in Tampere Stadium in the city of the same name, the “challenges” that go with a city-centre festival are always to be expected, says Sundell. However, all in all, “everything worked out great”.

 


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Marshmello ticket searches spike after Fortnite concert

Concert discovery platform Songkick has released data revealing a vast increase in fans searching for real-life Marshmello tickets, following the electronic dance music star’s virtual concert on online video game Fortnite.

Marshmello’s in-game Fortnite concert on Saturday attracted over ten million fans, in the best attended “concert” ever. This popularity is now manifesting itself in real-life ticket sales.

Marshmello is now the most-visited artist on the Songkick platform. Since Saturday, the DJ received twice as many pages views as K-pop band BTS, voted the most popular live attraction of 2018 by Ticketmaster customers.

According to Songkick, Marshmello’s pageviews spiked 3,000% on Saturday, an increase which is yet to diminish.

On Sunday, the day after the Fortnite concert, more fans searched for Marshmello tickets on the Songkick platform than ever before.

The DJ received twice as many page views as K-pop band BTS, Ticketmaster’s most popular live attraction of 2018

The search interest is enough “to fill out an entire US sports stadium”, according to the concert discovery site.

Marshmello’s varied touring schedule includes dates in India, Thailand, Australia and Japan over the next two months, before the electronic music producer embarks on a European tour in May.

More than ten million people are believed to have attended the concert in the popular free-to-play game, Fortnite, on Saturday. The number of players that tuned in for the performance greatly surpassed the game’s previous 8.3 million concurrent player record.

The Marshmello x Fortnite concert comes following Fire Festival, a virtual music festival hosted inside Minecraft, as the concept of in-game live music events grows.

Marshmello Fortnite concert most attended in history

 


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Arena boss sets sights on 2m visitors goal

Staff at Lanxess Arena in Cologne have set their sights on breaking the 2million visitors barrier, after reporting the best half-year results in the venue’s history.

In the first six months of 2017, 1,448,823 visitors attended 135 events at the 18,000-capacity arena, including concerts by Bruno Mars, Phil Collins, Ed Sheeran and Kings of Leon. It ranked fourth in Pollstar’s global arena ticket sales, below London’s The O2, Glasgow’s SECC and Manchester Arena.

“I am proud of what our team has successfully achieved in these incredibly intense time,” says CEO Stefan Löcher.

“Now we want to crack the barrier of two million visitors. That would be a great success and a great way to end a fantastic year.”

“An estimated 10% of all tourist traffic in Cologne is caused solely by the Lanxess arena”

As a direct and indirect employer in the region, the arena contributes an economic value of €600million to Cologne and the region, according to a press release.

Visitor surveys show that 20% percent of people attending events at the venue spend at least one night in Cologne hotels. Half that number spend two to three nights in the cathedral city. That makes at least 600,000 hotel nights in Cologne for the year 2017.

“An estimated 10% of tourist traffic in Cologne is caused solely by the Lanxess arena,” notes Josef Sommer, managing director of the local tourist board.

The last record year, 2010, saw 1,247,736 guests attend 118 events between January-June.

Forthcoming events at Lanxess Arena in the second half of 2017 include Metallica, Lady GaGa, Shakira, James Blunt and Yello.

Bonnaroo sales down, but community “vibrant”

The 2016 edition of Bonnaroo was the least-attended in the festival’s history, with ticket sales down 28,156 on last year and 46% from an all-time high of 85,094 in 2011.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – which has taken place in the 650-acre Great Stage Park (‘The Farm’) in Manchester, Tennessee since 2002 – sold just 45,537 tickets, reveals public records obtained by the Nashville Tennessean’s Nate Rau.

According to Rau, Bonnaroo anticipated the drop in sales and warned Coffee County council – which takes $3 of every ticket sold – attendance at the four-day festival would be lower than usual.

Speaking to the Tennessean, David Herrera, a professor at Belmont University in Nashville, speculates that the result could be “a combination of competing events and prices”.

“Could be the heat, humidity or perhaps what business theory calls the ‘law of diminishing returns’…”

“Given that live shows are still showing growth, it can be [one of many] reasons,” he says. “Could be the heat, humidity or perhaps what business theory calls the ‘law of diminishing returns’: each time you go back, you are a a little less satisfied and are less likely to attend again, unless you can attract new talent or really improve the facilities.” (The latter of which Bonnaroo most certainly did, installing for the first time permanent flushing toilets and showers.)

While the festival doesn’t release visitor numbers, it acknowledged the drop in sales but said it’s confident about bouncing back next year. “For the past 15 years we’ve been extremely fortunate to have over a million fans share the Bonnaroo experience with us,” read a statement on 12 June. “While our attendance is slightly lower this year, the Bonnaroo community is as vibrant as ever and excited about celebrating this milestone year on The Farm.”

 


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Belgian live music market hit by terror fears

Rock Werchter, Belgium’s largest and most successful music festival, is struggling to sell its 2016 ticket allocation as foreign visitors stay away following the Brussels bombings in March.

Belgium’s terror threat level currently stands at level three – indicating a “serious and real threat” – and Nele Bigaré of Live Nation says that while ticket sales to Belgian and Dutch visitors have remained stable, “the consequences of the attacks are clearly palpable”, leading to “significantly fewer ticket sales abroad”.

It’s not just Rock Werchter: Paul-Henri Wauters, programme director of Brussels’ 2,000-capacity Botanique and co-president of pan-European festival association De Concert!, tells IQ his venue has “perceived a slowdown in ticket sales” (“about 6–7% compared to a normal situation,” he says) since the bombings and the previous attacks in Paris, especially for showcase events and special projects.

“As for Les Nuits Botanique” – an annual festival featuring 60 concerts and 160 bands across five venues, and the first big event in Brussels since the March attacks – “there was some average loss of audience,” he continues, although it was only around 2% “thanks to [our] compensating with more attractive headliners”. (Jack Garratt, Tinie Tempah, Bejamin Francis Leftwich, Ty Segall, Cocorosie, Field Music and Andrew Bird were among the big names.)

“The consequences of the attacks are clearly palpable, leading to significantly fewer ticket sales abroad”

Gate receipts are also down at Brussels festival Couleur Café, which has so far shifted 30% fewer tickets than last year, according to yesterday’s De Tijd, and Gent Jazz in Ghent, which has sold “3,500 fewer than usual”, says spokesman Bertrand Flamang.

One Belgian mainstay bucking the trend is Tomorrowland, which, according to press coordinator Debby Wilmsen, sold its entire inventory of 180,000 tickets (60,000 per day), in a single minute. It is worth noting, though, that tickets for the ID&T dance music event sold out in early February – or, as one prominent Benelux promoter puts it, “when people had forgotten about Paris”.

The same situation applies to one-day Rock Werchter sister event TW Classic, headlined by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, which sold out in mid-February.

But what about other festivals hoping to sell out before the summer? Patrick Keersebilck of smaller event Cactusfestival (cap. 9,000), tells IQ that “at the moment it doesn’t look like threat of terror has had an effect on ticket sales” for the Bruges event, which this year is headlined by Damien Rice, Wilco and Air. “As presales are running well, we [haven’t felt] the need to adjust the original marketing campaign.”

“All we can do is provide a good feeling of security and non-stop programming”

Julie Vermeire of Zeebrugge beach festival WeCanDance says “tickets are selling” but typically don’t pick up until later in the year: “As we’re very dependent on the weather in August, we’re not sure yet if the figures are due to that or to the terrorist attacks,” she says.

She adds that bag searches will be “much more severe than usual”, but has not yet communicated that to fans.

Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland will also, along with Graspop Metal Meeting, TW Classic, Dour Festival and Pukkelpop, be implementing stronger security on the gate, with “thorough” bag inspections and metal detectors the norm at all six events.

The festivals will no doubt be hoping the new security measures will go some way to assuaging fans’ fears, but what else can promoters and venue owners do to keep them coming at a time when even government officials are saying there could be as many as 100 IS fighters currently active in Belgium? “All we can do is [provide] a good feeling of security, including metal detectors and daily contact with police, and non-stop programming,” says Wauters, “and give, show after show, our audience the pleasure of attending concerts.”