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Virtual worlds created for dance music festivals

Belgian mega festival Tomorrowland and London’s Junction 2 festival are among events to create 3D, virtual worlds for their fans to navigate, keeping the festival spirit alive despite the restrictions of lockdown.

The 70,000-cap. flagship edition of electronic music festival franchise Tomorrowland was set to take place across two weekends in July in Boom, Belgium, featuring acts including Eric Prydz, David Guetta, Marshmello, Amelie Lens, Afrojack, Helena Hauff and Maceo Plex.



With the real-life edition called off, organisers have set up Tomorrowland Around the World, a two-day, virtual event taking place from 25 to 26 July. Festivalgoers will be able to navigate through the eight-stage festival site on a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

In addition to exclusive music content, attendees will have access to a range of interactive activities such as webinars, games and workshops related to lifestyle, food, fashion and the Tomorrowland Foundation.

“Tomorrowland Around The World is the result of a gigantic team effort of hundreds of people who are working around the clock to create a never-before-seen interactive entertainment experience,” comments Tomorrowland co-founder Michiel Beers. “We hope that hundreds of thousands of people will unite in a responsible way and that small Tomorrowland gatherings at people’s homes will be organised.

“Especially during the weekend where normally Tomorrowland Belgium would take place, we really have the power to unite the world.”

“We hope that hundreds of thousands of people will unite in a responsible way and that small Tomorrowland gatherings at people’s homes will be organised”

The line-up for Tomorrowland Around the World will be announced on 15 June, with tickets becoming available from 18 June. Day tickets cost €12.50 and full weekend access is priced at €20.

Junction 2, promoted by London’s LWE and part of U-Live, is another electronic music event forging ahead in a virtual realm.

In lieu of 30,000 music fans descending on the west London festival site from 5 to 6 June to see acts including Jon Hopkins, Four Tet, Amelie Lens, Nina Kraviz, Honey Dijon and Maceo Plex, organisers have announced the virtual J2v event, which will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. BST on 6 June.

Fans will be able to access an online, 3D festival world, with three stages and space to “roam” and interact with fellow attendees via a private chatroom. The J2v website will act as the central hub, although festivalgoers can join via social media and listen via webcast or radio.

Those performing at J2v include Adam Beyer, Daniel Avery and Shanti Celeste.

Jv2 will also raise funds for charities Care Workers Charity, Refuge, The Outside Project, Trussell Trust foodbanks and Stand Up To Racism via merch sales, mail-order bar service and fan donations.

Photo: Julian Dael/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 


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Kite: new festival from Love Supreme team to debut in UK

The inaugural Kite Festival, a three-day live music and ideas event, is taking place in the grounds of a stately home near Oxford, UK, this summer.

Announced today, the new festival is a joint venture between Universal Music Group’s live music arm U-Live – in which Chinese entertainment giant recently acquired a stake – and Neapolitan Music, who together promote Love Supreme Jazz Festival, as well as Tortoise Media, the brainchild of former BBC new director James Jarding and ex-Wall Street Journal and Down Jones president Katie Vanneck-Smith.

The festival will host a combination of live music, comedy and educational talks, with a main stage featuring headline artists and a second stage showcasing more experimental acts. The Big Top Tent and the Bookshop stages will see pop-up performances, with emerging artists performing on the Bandstand. The ThinkIn Village area will provide a space for discussion.

The launch of the festival comes with a call-to-action for ‘festival founders’ to become involved in the project and give financial backing via creative projects fundraising platform Kickstarter. Founders will gain access to the best ticket prices for all future Kite festivals.

“We are very excited to develop a new festival that puts equal emphasis on both music and ideas”

“We are very excited to develop a new festival that puts equal emphasis on both music and ideas,” comments festival director Ciro Romano. “Alongside our founding community and the teams at U-Live and Tortoise we can deliver a festival that is perfect for the new decade.

“Across the board we see festivals dedicated to literature, politics, science but we couldn’t see anywhere that was programming music and debate on an equal footing. We will deliver a pioneering line-up with legendary and contemporary artists alongside world class public figures, thinkers and cultural icons.”

“All the team at Tortoise are thrilled to be part of creating Kite,” adds Harding. “Building on everything we’ve learned during Tortoise’s first year, the ThinkIn Village at Kite will bring together global politicians, comedians, business leaders, authors and others who are interested in how we understand our world – and do something about it.”

Kite Festival is taking place from 12 to 14 June in Kirtlington Park, Oxford, in the south east of the UK. More information can be found on the festival website.

 


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Tencent acquires U-Live stake with UMG buy-in

Vivendi and a consortium led by Tencent, the Chinese tech and entertainment giant, have finalised the consortium’s acquisition of a 10% stake in Universal Music Group (UMG), concluding talks than began last summer.

The acquisition values UMG at €30 billion, with members of the consortium including Tencent Holdings Ltd, Tencent Music (often referred to as ‘China’s Spotify’) and “certain global financial investors”, according to a joint statement.

The consortium has the option to purchase an additional up-to-10% stake in UMG at the same ‘enterprise value’ (the value of the whole company; ie €30bn) before 15 January 2021, while Tencent Music also has the option to acquire a minority stake in UMG’s business in so-called ‘Greater China’ (the PRC, including Hong Kong and Macau, plus Taiwan).

Pending regulators’ approvals, the transaction is expected to complete by the end of June 2020.

“Vivendi is very happy with the arrival of Tencent and its co-investors. They will enable UMG to further develop in the Asian market,” reads a statement from UMG’s French parent company, Vivendi.

“Together with Vivendi, Tencent and TME will work to broaden the opportunities for artists and to enrich experiences for music fans”

Tencent adds: “Tencent and the Consortium members are excited to support UMG’s growth through this investment.

“Together with Vivendi, Tencent and TME [Tencent Music Entertainment] will work to broaden the opportunities for artists and to enrich experiences for music fans, further promoting a thriving music and entertainment industry.”

The acquisition of a 10% share of UMG also gives Tencent a stake in U-Live, Universal Music’s live music arm, whose UK festival stable includes Love Supreme, the Long Road, Sundown and Nocturne.

UMG grew its revenues 17.5% in the nine months ending September 2019, the most recently available financial results, to over €5 billion (€1.8bn in Q3), bolstered by strong merchandise revenues and the success of artists including Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish.

Universal reports merchandise boom in 2019

Tencent – which, in addition to its music interests, leads the world in social media and videogaming – turned over CN¥312.7 billion (€40.2bn) in 2018, and employs nearly 60,000 people.

 


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Sally Davies named MD of UMG-owned promoter U-Live

Sally Davies has been promoted to managing director of U-Live.

Davies (pictured) was previously chief operating officer (COO) of the Universal Music subsidiary, which promotes and produces live music and entertainment, and has been instrumental in guiding its success since its launch in 2012.

Under her leadership the remit of U-Live will become “even broader”, and several projects are in the planning stages for launch over the next 18 months. Recent hits for the company, based in the Universal Music building in Kensington Village, west London, include West End musical Elf, Pete Townshend’s Classical Quadrophenia, Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace and The Girls, a new theatre show produced in conjunction with Gary Barlow.

Davies will report to David Sharpe, COO of Universal Music UK.

“Sally, a highly respected and creative executive who knows the live business inside out, is the person to take the company to the next level after its strong start in a very competitive sector”

Universal Music UK chairman and CEO David Joseph says: “There’s clear potential for U-Live to continue to grow and innovate. Sally, a highly respected and creative executive who knows the live business inside out, is the person to take the company to the next level after its strong start in a very competitive sector.”

Davies adds: “I feel very privileged to be leading our live division at such an exciting, pivotal time. We will benefit greatly from working closely with David’s team as we move forward with Universal Music’s live interests, delivering the projects already in our portfolio as well as exploring new opportunities.”

Prior to joining U-Live in 2012, Davies was assistant general manager at The O2 and previously served as head of customer services and venue manager for the Tutankhamun Exhibition for AEG.