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V Festival returns for 2020 as online event

The UK’s V Festival – which in its heyday drew crowds of 170,000 across two sites in Essex and Staffordshire – will return as a one-off digital event later this month.

V Festival 2020 will be broadcast as a three-part television special on 21, 22 and 23 August. Festival headliners are Olly Murs, Dizzee Rascal and Anne-Marie, who will perform live from the original V Festival site at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex.

In addition to new performances livestreamed from Hylands Park, the ITV2 special will also feature archival footage of past V Festival performances, as well as interviews with artists about their favourite V sets and memories. More performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Cilesta Van Doorn, executive director of brand and marketing at broadband company Virgin Media, which is behind V Festival 2020, says: “We are thrilled to announce that V Festival will be returning in 2020 with a virtual twist. Festivals are a catalyst for connecting to each other, and they’re often social events as much as they are musical.

“Although we can’t flock to the fields physically this year, we’re so excited to enable people to stay connected not only to incredible live music, but to their friends and families online too.”

The last edition of V Festival, which debuted in 1996, took place in 2017, after which it was replaced by a new event in Chelmsford, Rize Festival. Rize did not return in 2019 following a disappointing first year.

“To come and sing at Hylands Park again was an easy ‘yes’”

“V Festival holds a very special place in my heart […] as not only did I used to go every year with my mates and camp as a punter, but I later got the chance to actually perform there and be invited back four times,” says Olly Murs. “Headlining the MTV stage in 2015 was definitely a career highlight of mine, as was jumping on stage with Madness to sing one of my favourite tracks of all time, ‘It Must Be Love.’ I’ve had some pretty special memories at V, so to come and sing at Hylands Park [again] was an easy ‘yes’.

“It’s great that ITV2 and Virgin Media are bringing V Festival into people’s living rooms, and I’m very glad to be a small part of that.”

Paul Mortimer, head of ITV’s digital channels, adds: “V Festival is a huge part of the UK’s festival history and the ITV2 team are so pleased to be able to play a part in bringing it back to the masses for one year only.

“The star-studded line-up music fans have come to expect from V Festival will be bigger than ever. We’re dipping into the archives to showcase some throwback performances, too, so people can reminisce on some of their favourites memories from past years.”

V Festival 2020 will air on ITV2 from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 August.

 


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Lizzo, ASAP Rocky to headline first-ever Virgin Fest

The line-up for the inaugural Virgin Fest has been announced, with acts including Lizzo, ASAP Rocky, Anderson .Paak, Major Lazer and Ellie Goulding making up the bill.

Virgin founder Richard Branson first revealed his plans for Virgin Fest in 2018, following the end of the brand’s partnership with the UK’s V Festival. The festival launched following the acquisition of the Kaaboo festival brand by Virgin’s music festival arm – also named Virgin Fest – last year.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Virgin brand, the festival is taking place on 6 and 7 June 2020 at the Banc of California Stadium (22,000-cap.) and Exposition Park (160-acre) in Los Angeles.

As well as its music programme, which also features Jorja Smith, Kali Uchis, Japanese Breakfast, Clairo and Celeste, Virgin Fest will showcase an interactive fair with new technologies and gaming.

“By combining Virgin’s signature hospitality and ingenuity with a strong sense of purpose, our team built the festival of tomorrow, today,” comments Virgin founder Branson.

“We are proud to bring Virgin Fest to LA and to be on track to become one of the United States’ greenest festivals”

“We are proud to bring Virgin Fest to LA and to be on track to become one of the United States’ greenest festivals.”

Sustainable initiatives such as a single-use plastic ban, solar programme, surplus food donations and a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will help reduce the event’s carbon footprint.

“Music is an emotional force of transformation – it can change people’s moods, their outlook on life, and sometimes, it can unite the world,” says Jason Felts, CEO and founder of Virgin Fest.

“We are embracing the dream that music can bring to get us to a better place – for our fans, for our people, for our communities and for our planet. We envision a tomorrow where festivals live and breathe the extraordinary – Virgin Fest looks to lead that charge.”

Tickets for Virgin Fest are available here. A two-day pass costs US$229, with VIP options available for $499 and mega VIP tickets for $1999.

Photo: Andy Witchger/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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Virgin Fest to debut in LA in 2020

Marking the 50 year anniversary of the Virgin brand, the inaugural Virgin Fest will take place on 6 and 7 June 2020 at the Banc of California Stadium and Exposition Park in Los Angeles, California.

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and CEO Jason Felts confirmed the venue and date of the weekend event yesterday (11 December).

The announcement follows Felts’ September acquisition of US festival brand Kaaboo.

The LA festival will take place across multiple stages throughout the 160-acre outdoor space of Exposition Park and 22,000-capacity indoor California Stadium. The line-up is due to be announced in early 2020, along with ticket sales.

“My love of music led me to start Virgin Records nearly five decades ago. I’m thrilled that Virgin’s musical heritage lives on through Virgin Fest,” comments Branson. “We look forward to bringing Virgin’s expertise in customer experience, innovation and entertainment to our festival in Los Angeles, a place that has always been very near and dear to my heart.”

“I’m thrilled that Virgin’s musical heritage lives on through Virgin Fest”

Virgin was formerly involved with the UK’s V Festival, promoted by Live Nation, Metropolis Music, MCD Productions and SJM Concerts. The brand ended its partnership with the event in 2017.

The year after V’s end, Branson revealed plans for a US festival, “an innovative, multi-experiential” event which would focus on “music, exploration, innovation and generosity”.

Environmental initiatives also form a major part of Virgin Fest, which will include a ban on single-use plastics, a reusable cup deposit scheme and the use of renewable energy sources such as biofuels and solar power.

“With a focus purely on people and planet, I am proud to launch a first of its kind music and tech experience built upon a foundation of positivity, equality and unmatched hospitality,” says Felts.

“We hope to uplift our shared humanity by igniting a spirit of community for all, so that our fans feel welcomed, safe and free to enjoy the experience through music and forward thinking regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, religion, political party or disability.”

More information on the line-up, ticket sales and VIP offerings will be available here.

VIRGIN FEST | JUNE 6 + 7 2020 | LOS ANGELES from Virgin Fest on Vimeo.

 


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Virgin Fest CEO Jason Felts acquires Kaaboo

Jason Felts, chief executive of the festival arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, Virgin Fest, and co-founder of Virgin Produced, has acquired Kaaboo festival from its co-founders.

Through a Virgin Fest affiliate, Felts, former chief brand officer for the festival, has acquired all of Kaaboo’s assets from Bryan E Gordon and Seth Wolkov. The pair, chairman and president of Denver-based private investment holding company, the Madison Companies, launched Kaaboo in 2015 at the Del Mar Racetrack (44,000-cap.) in California.

Financial details of the sale have not been disclosed.

The Kaaboo sale  comes days after the announcement that the festival had entered into a multi-year partnership with baseball team the San Diego Padres, moving the festival to Petco Park baseball stadium and renaming the event from Kaaboo Del Mar to Kaaboo San Diego.

“I attended the first Kaaboo Del Mar in 2015 with my parents,” says Felts. “It became clear that Kaaboo shared a like-minded approach to Virgin with customer service, while delivering a unique, differentiated, multi-sensory festival product.

“It was on that basis that we first invested and supported this vision in 2016. We look forward to the future of the Kaaboo brand and its festival experiences under our ownership.”

The Kaaboo team debuted two new spin-off festivals this year, a two-day event in the Cayman Islands and a three-day festival in Texas. A 2020 Cayman Islands festival, announced immediately after the close of the sold-out inaugural edition, has since been cancelled. No announcement has been made regarding a continuation of the Texas festival.

“It became clear that Kaaboo shared a like-minded approach to Virgin with customer service, while delivering a unique, differentiated, multi-sensory festival product”

Kaaboo co-founders Gordon and Wolkov comment: “We’re thrilled and delighted to have had this unique vision and grateful to be validated by this acquisition with such an experienced and progressive team.

“We are appreciative of Richard (Branson) and Virgin’s early support of our brand and confident that, in Jason and his team’s capable hands, the journey that we started to offer adults [of] a truly differentiated festival experience is sure to live on and grow for many years to come.”

Virgin Group founder Branson announced the launch of his own “multi-experiential” music festival last year, following the termination of Virgin’s V Festival sponsorship. The festival, also named Virgin Fest, was pegged to debut in the US this year.

The final Kaaboo Del Mar wrapped up on Sunday (15 September). Acts including the Dave Matthews band, Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons played the sold-out event, with attendance surpassing 35,000 each day.

The first edition of Kaaboo San Diego will take place from September 18 to 20 next year, held in and around the San Diego baseball stadium, Petco Park (42,445-cap.). Tickets for the event, priced from US$199 for a three-day pass to $17,500 for the ‘Ultimate Hang’ VIP package, are available here.

 


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Kaaboo Cayman: the Caribbean festival putting out the Fyre

The sold-out, inaugural Kaaboo Cayman took place from 15 to 16 February on Seven Mile beach, Grand Cayman, featuring performances from the Chainsmokers and Duran Duran.

The Caribbean festival hosted 10,000 people over two days of music, comedy and culinary experiences, overcoming obstacles posed following the well-publicised failure of the Bahamas-based Fyre Festival.

The Chainsmokers, Maren Morris and Flo Rida headlined the opening night, with Duran Duran, Jason Derulo, Shaggy, Blondie and Zedd performing on the Saturday. Stand-up comedy performances came from Darell Hammond, Kevin Nealon and Wanda Sykes over the weekend.

Jason Felts, chief executive of Virgin Produced and chief brand officer of Kaaboo Cayman, estimates the economic impact of the festival to be between US$15 to $20 million for the Cayman Islands.

“If we failed here in the Cayman Islands, it would hurt the industry overall, and so we were over-prepared so as to help the industry thrive on the whole”

Kaaboo teamed up with Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, which oversaw artist programming and procurement, and sponsors including Dart Enterprises, Digicel and BritCay.

Felts says it was “challenging” to regain the trust of the consumer and to convince both festivalgoers and industry figures that Kaaboo Cayman would not become another Fyre Festival.

“If we failed here in the Cayman Islands, it would hurt the industry overall, and so we were over-prepared so as to help the industry thrive on the whole,” says Felts. “As you look over our site, you can see the infrastructure is incredible.”

“There is no FEMA tent. I challenge you to find a cheese sandwich,” he adds.

The team is now planning for Kaaboo Cayman 2020, as well as the first Kaaboo Texas, which will take place in May this year at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The fifth annual Kaaboo Del Mar kicks off in San Diego in September.


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Richard Branson announces new US Virgin Fest

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has announced the launch of Virgin Fest, a new “multi-experiential” music festival set to debut in the US in 2019.

Virgin was formerly involved in the UK’s V Festival, promoted by Live Nation, Metropolis Music, MCD Productions and SJM Concerts. V debuted in 1996 as twin festivals in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, and Victoria Park in Warrington, with headliners Pulp, Paul Weller and Elastica. The northern England leg moved to Leeds in 1997, before settling in Weston Park in Staffordshire in 1999.

Announcing the end of the partnership, Branson said last October: “We’ve been proud to sponsor V Festival for the past two decades and there have been some incredible performances on the stage. Now, after 22 very enjoyable and successful years, 2017 was Virgin’s last V Festival.”

The Chelmsford V Festival was succeeded by a new event, Rize Festival, in 2018, although the Staffordshire event has not been replaced.

Writing on his Virgin blog after unveiling his new Hollywood Walk of Fame star, Branson says: “Once upon a time, we built the largest independent record company in the world, and that is the reason I believe I’ve been honoured with a star. Running a record company can be a lot of fun, and, yes, it did involve sex, drugs and rock’n’roll! So I had plenty of stories to share with the audience in Hollywood, from Mike Oldfield to the Sex Pistols, Phil Collins to Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones to Boy George, Peter Tosh to the Spice Girls.

 

“I could go on and on about all of the moments that brought us here (I’ll share more of them soon), but it’s always most important for me to keep the Virgin brand moving forward and that’s exactly what we intend to do together.

“With that in mind, I’m proud to announce Virgin Fest, an innovative, multi-experiential music festival with all of the fun surprises and red-hot service that can only come from Virgin. We followed the Walk of Fame event with a special Virgin Fest launch in Hollywood, complete with a brilliant performance from Nervo (who says you can’t dance at lunchtime?!)

“Virgin Fest is coming to the US in 2019 and will be centred on music, exploration, innovation and generosity. It will feature a unique mixture of diverse music acts, cutting edge technological experiences, exclusive content, and a commitment to sustainability.”

No dates, performers or a venue have yet been announced for the new event, but Branson says its programming will reflect “the heart of the Virgin brand, [which] has always been music and entertainment”, with a “unique mixture of diverse music acts, cutting-edge technological experiences, exclusive content and a commitment to sustainability.”

“But, true to the Virgin brands,” he adds, “we will make sure Virgin Fest also focuses strongly on customer service. We want our festgoers to come away having enjoyed an amazing experience, not just another music event.”

 


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Rize announced for Hylands Park…but no event in Staffs

SJM Concerts today announced dates and the first acts for Rize Festival, the event replacing V Festival at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.

Taking place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August 2018, rather than V’s traditional Saturday and Sunday, the festival will be headlined by Liam Gallagher and Stereophonics. Other performers include James Bay, Manic Street Preachers, Bastille, Maximo Park, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, Circa Waves and Craig David’s TS5, with bookers focusing on an “exciting mix of the very best music from classic indie, pop, urban, dance and new upcoming talent across four stages”.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced in October it was pulling its sponsorship of V, ending a 22-year commercial relationship and bringing to a close the festival in its former guise. While the Chelmsford leg now has a replacement in the form of Rize, no event has been announced for Weston Park in Staffordshire, which formerly hosted a sister festival on the same weekend.

A representative for Rize Festival confirms to IQ that Roseclaim – the company behind V Festival, whose directors include Live Nation’s Paul Latham, Metropolis’s Bob Angus, SJM Concerts’ Simon Moran and MCD Productions’ Denis Desmond – will “not be promoting a new event at Weston Park in 2018”.

“We are very excited about working with Roseclaim on a future project here on the estate in 2019”

Colin Sweeney, CEO of the Weston Park Foundation, which manages the park, says: “We have been enormously proud to have been home to the former V Festival over the last 19 years. The significant contribution that hosting the event has made to the charitable objectives of the Weston Park Foundation and the wider regional economy cannot be underestimated.”

Sweeney adds, however, there will likely be another Live Nation/Metropolis/SJM/MCD festival in the park next year, saying: “We are very excited about working with Roseclaim on a future project here on the estate in 2019.”

Liam Gallagher’s upcoming headline show in Finsbury Park, promoted by Live Nation’s Festival Republic, is billed as being presented by “Rize”, indicating the promoter has plans for the brand outside the annual festival.

A full line-up is below:

Rize Festival 2018

 


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V Festival set for rebrand as Virgin sponsorship ends

After 22 years, Virgin Group is ending its relationship with V Festival, Virgin founder Richard Branson announced today, with V 2017 the last year of the UK festival in its current guise.

“V Festival has always been a special weekend for everyone at Virgin,” says Branson. “We’ve been proud to sponsor V Festival for the past two decades and there have been some incredible performances on the stage. Now, after 22 very enjoyable and successful years, 2017 was Virgin’s last V Festival.

V Festival, promoted by Live Nation, Metropolis Music, MCD Productions and SJM Concerts, debuted in 1996 as twin festivals in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, and Victoria Park in Warrington, with headliners Pulp, Paul Weller and Elastica. The northern England leg moved to Leeds in 1997, before settling in its current home of Weston Park in Staffordshire in 1999.

Branson describes working with the festival as “a brilliant journey filled with great people, fun times and exceptional music”, but says Virgin is now focused on “look[ing] at new ways we can disrupt the industry to ensure music is a force for good.”

“After 22 very enjoyable and successful years, 2017 was Virgin’s last V Festival”

“Virgin already is investing in exciting music initiatives such as Sofar Sounds, who bring artists to perform live in an intimate venue and give you the chance to just be still and listen,” he continues. “Seeing my first Sofar gig reminded me of the early days of Virgin Records, where we sat on beanbags and drifted away with the music as we found new bands to sign and fall in love with.

Relaunched music station Virgin Radio is also going strong in the UK, along with our thriving radio stations with hundreds of thousands of listeners tuning in from all over the world.

“We’re really excited about the future ahead and can’t wait to share our plans with music lovers across the globe.”

Speaking to Music Week, Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn confirms the festival will continue under a new name over the same weekend in August, with plans to expand from two to three days at both sites. Programming, meanwhile, will “very much continue to have a pop and dance focus”.

Live Nation bought a stake in V in 2013, while Metropolis joined the company this January.

 


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LN, Virgin Aus tie-up to “make touring easier”

Virgin Australia has been named Live Nation Australasia’s official airline partner.

The partnership, brokered by Live Nation joint venture mixitup Australia, sees LN Australasia gain “a world-class airline partner who will ensure touring artists and touring personnel enjoy the best possible travelling experience, working closely with the industry to make touring easier for artists”, says the promoter.

In return, Virgin will host “innovative marketing and brand experiences” at Live Nation concerts and events.

“Live Nation is looking forward to working with Virgin Australia and its alliance partners to deliver a superior travelling experience for our touring entourages”

Inese Kingsmill, the airline’s chief marketing officer, comments: “With entertainment in our brand’s DNA, we are thrilled to partner with Live Nation and support the unique travel needs of many of the world’s greatest and most exciting artists. This new partnership provides Virgin Australia with the opportunity to bring the world’s best live music to Australia for fans to enjoy, and the opportunity to create unforgettable brand experiences.”

Newly minted Live Nation Australasia CEO Roger Field adds: “Live Nation is looking forward to working with Virgin Australia and its alliance partners to deliver a superior travelling experience for our touring entourages. Virgin Australia share our passion for music and entertainment.”

 


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Richard Branson invests in ‘secret gig’ promoter

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has invested in Sofar Sounds, a British start-up that promotes ‘secret shows’ in 263 cities worldwide.

Branson, who started a record retail business (now Virgin Megastores) in February 1971 before using the proceeds to found Virgin Records, says Sofar – Songs from a Room – offers an an antidote to “soulless” modern venues by putting on concerts in “unusual, spontaneous places” and creating “new, engaged fans who have been immersed in an authentic, eclectic night, and maybe met a new friend or two as well”.

Writing on his Virgin blog, Branson says: “Like all the best ideas, Sofar Sounds started life as the solution to a personal problem somebody was facing. Co-founders Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander were fed up of going to gigs and hearing people talk and play on their phones rather than engage with the artist. So they began organising secret, intimate gigs in their living rooms with the simple idea of making every show magical. They quickly discovered that many, many more people wanted the same thing.

“The average Sofar show is oversubscribed by 10 to one. This is the main reason I am excited to be investing: the opportunity to help it expand and reach even more music fans”

“Before long Sofar expanded from secret gigs in London living rooms to secret gigs everywhere from Thailand to Turkey, Brazil to Belgium, Kenya to South Korea. [Over] 260 cities are part of the Sofar community, with music-loving US destinations the fastest-growing, from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago to Dallas, Washington, DC, to San Francisco. As I’ve heard from the many friends and colleagues who have been going to the gigs, every show is different and each city puts its own spin on the distinctive Sofar experience.

“So far there have been more than 4000 Sofar Sounds events featuring over 12,000 artists, and they are growing fast. There will be 290 events this month, and the average show is oversubscribed by 10 to one. This is the main reason I am excited to be investing in Sofar – the opportunity to help it expand and reach even more music fans. By creating more events in its inimitable style, they will in turn be able to support even more artists.”

The involvement of Sir Richard brings Sofar Sounds, founded in 2011, to a total of four investors. The London-based company has secured two previous rounds of investment: seed funding from Index Ventures and LocalGlobe, and seed and series-A funding from Octopus Ventures.

 


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