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Superstruct makes first acquisition since pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Wacken Foundation unveils corona rescue fund

The Wacken Foundation, a non-profit organisation run by Wacken Open Air founders Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen, is providing aid of up to €1,000 to support musicians, bands and organisers struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown.

The foundation, which forms part of Hübner and Jensen’s International Concert Service (ICS) network, announced its corona rescue fund today (14 May), as the music industry is facing “one of its biggest challenges to date”.

Applicants are eligible for funding if they have incurred financial losses due to cancelled tours or shows; have incurred additional travel costs because of cancellations; have incurred losses due to short-term cancellations as an organiser or crew member of a heavy metal event; or are unable to cover the cost of a rehearsal room, among other reasons.

The Wacken Foundation is providing aid of up to €1,000 to support those struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown

Applications must be sent to rescue-fund@wacken-foundation.com, with a description of the applicant’s circumstances and a calculation of costs.The Wacken Foundation team state they will “approve every single application personally”.

Regular applicants, who applied for funding before the coronavirus crisis took hold, are asked to have “extra patience” during this time.

More information on the Wacken Foundation fund can be found here.

Wacken Open Air, which sold out its 2020 edition in under 24 hours, is among the many festivals to have to cancel its outing this summer, as large-scale live events remain outlawed in Germany until September.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times. 

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‘As disappointed as our guests’: Germany cans summer fests

Germany, Europe’s largest live music market, has become the latest European nation to outlaw all large-scale live events until 31 August, forcing the mass cancellation of some of Europe’s best-loved music festivals.

“Since major events play an important role in spreading infection, they remain prohibited until at least 31 August 2020,” reads a news release from the German federal government, which had yesterday (15 April) given the go-ahead for shops and schools to reopen.

Among the affected events are nearly all of Germany’s summer festival fixtures, including MLK’s Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane and Southside, Goodlive’s Melt and Splash! Festivals and Superstruct’s Wacken Open Air and Parookaville – with the likes of Goodlive’s Lollapalooza Berlin and new festival Superbloom (both 5–6 September) spared from the ban by a matter of days.

The German restrictions follow similar coronavirus-driven bans on summer events elsewhere in Europe, including Belgium (until 31 August), France (mid-July), Austria (30 June) and Denmark (31 August).

For FKP Scorpio – which, in addition to its flagship twin open-airs, is also calling off Highfield, Deichbrand, Elbjazz, Limestone and Mera Luna – the decision, although “a clear and important safety measure”, is a source of sadness for the entire company, says founder-CEO Folkert Koopmans.

“All of us are bitterly disappointed”

“It goes without saying that these cancellations, like the entire unprecedented [Covid-19] situation, make us very sad, even if we fully support the political decision to protect the population,” comments Koopmans. “Our whole team has been working with countless partners for a long time in preparation for the summer festival season, and is as disappointed as our guests.”

Thomas Jensen, co-founder of metal festival Wacken Open Air, which sold out its 2020 edition under a day, echoes: “Our whole team has been working intensively on the festival these last months, and all of us are bitterly disappointed that we are not allowed to celebrate a Wacken Open Air together with our visitors and the bands this year.”

Similarly sold out were Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, promoted by CTS Eventim’s Marek Lieberberg Konzeragentur, which would have celebrated 35 and 25 years in 2020, respectively.

“For the organisers, the artists and the 175,000 fans who wanted to celebrate 35 years of Rock am Ring and 25 years of Rock im Park in the first weekend in June, this decision is of course disappointing,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Nevertheless, the producers unreservedly support these inevitable measures in the interests of the safety and health of everyone involved, however sad we are over the cancellation of the festivals.”

 


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Black Gold: How metal became a cultural phenomenon

Last year, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson was bestowed with two very unique honours.

In April, he was made an honorary citizen of Sarajevo in recognition of a concert his solo band Skunkworks played there in 1994, during a prolonged siege of the Bosnian capital. Presenting the award, mayor Abdulah Skaka said: “The arrival of Mr Dickinson in Sarajevo, in 1994, was one of those moments that made us realise that we will survive.”

The other accolade was bestowed upon Dickinson by Dr Cristina Rheims, a Brazilian biologist and metal fan who gave a newly discovered species of spider the name Extraordinarius brucedickonsoni.

If these honours anecdotally demonstrate metal’s soft power, its global reach and the deep devotion of its fans, then the fact that Amon Amarth, a melodic death metal band whose principal lyrical inspiration is Viking folklore, will shake the fields of Wacken Open Air festival with 75,000 roaring fans this summer should be considered testament to metal’s undaunted commercial clout.

“It feels like there’s a cultural movement happening where, if you’re in the metal game and you’re good at what you do, you have a specific brand and you put on a great live show, things are moving,” enthuses Justin Arcangel, president of 5B Artist Management and Touring, who represent Amon Amarth, Babymetal, Slipknot and more.

“All our data – streaming numbers, ticket numbers, merch sales, whatever – are all bigger in 2020 than in 2019. The funny thing is when you speak to some people that don’t work in this genre, they have no idea. Metal is, to this day, outsider music, but let me tell you, it’s a major cultural thing, especially in Europe.”

“What we’ve witnessed across our events is metal is really a community – this outlaw feeling that unites us”

Summer knights
“Some of our hardcore audience think maybe metal is too mainstream now, because in Germany there’s a lot in the charts,” chuckles Thomas Jensen, CEO of International Concert Services and Wacken co-founder, pondering the sea change since he first staged the festival in the German village’s gravel pit in 1990.

Now in its third decade, with all 75,000 tickets for 2020’s edition snapped up in an astonishing 21 hours, Wacken is a major force, with good company in France’s Hellfest (55,000-capacity), Belgium’s Graspop (50,000-cap.), plus the UK’s Bloodstock Open Air (20,000-cap.) and Download, which attracts 110,000 fans over the weekend – a “heavy music summer,” as Jensen calls it. Which is not even to dig into the boom in boutique festivals offering bespoke experiences, such as Italy’s Rock the Castle or the Netherlands’ Roadburn, whose reputation as a tastemaker event means 75% of its 4,000 attendees travel from abroad.

“What we’ve witnessed across Wacken events is that metal is really a community, this outlaw feeling that unites us,” says Jensen. “Our music is a live experience and the whole festival circuit allows bands to survive. For international acts, it’s easier to put a festival run together than it was in the 90s, and you see bands working their way up the bill each year.”

“I’ve only ever seen the metal market over the years grow,” agrees Vicky Hungerford, co-director at Bloodstock, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with headline spots from Polish black metallers Behemoth and the UK’s Judas Priest. As well as fostering new talent with their popular Metal to the Masses series of regional shows, where unsigned bands compete to play the festival, Bloodstock strongly believes in paving the way for tomorrow’s monsters of rock.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 88, or subscribe to the magazine here.


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Festival Fever: more line-up announcements for 2020

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

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Wacken Open Air

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pinkpop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pohoda

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melt!

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

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

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

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

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

 


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W:O:A founders to receive EFA lifetime achievement gong

Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen, co-founders of German metal festival Wacken Open Air, will receive the lifetime achievement award at the 11th European Festival Awards (EFAs) on 15 January 2020.

The other nominees for the awards, which take place during Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, Netherlands, were revealed last week, with over 350,000 votes cast across the 14 other categories.

Jensen, the bassist in a band called Skyline, and Hübner, who was working as a DJ, co-founded Wacken Open Air in 1990.

Nearly 30 years on, the festival is arguably the world’s most important metal/hard rock event – Wacken 2020 sold all 75,000 tickets in the space of a few hours – and their company, ICS, also includes a roster of other hard rock festivals, a touring division, a booking agency (Seaside Touring), ticketing platform Metaltix and the Wacken Foundation, a nonprofit which provides tour support and other assistance to young bands.

Last year’s EFA lifetime achievement award was collected by Eurosonic founder Peter Smidt, with Wacken picking up best major festival and Roskilde Festival being awarded line-up of the year.

Read IQ’s special 30th-anniversary feature on Wacken Open Air here.

 


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European Festival Awards unveils 2019 shortlist

The nominees for the 11th edition of the European Festival Awards have been revealed, with the ceremony due to take place on 15 January at Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in the Netherlands.

Over 350,000 votes have been cast for the 2019 awards across the main public categories, which include best major, medium and small festivals, as well as the best new and best indoor events.

The awards will present accolades across 15 categories in total, with the shortlists available for all but one category – the lifetime achievement award – which last year went to ESNS co-founder Peter Smidt.

The nominees for the 11th edition of the European Festival Awards have been revealed

The shortlists can be viewed here across categories including the year’s best line-up, promoter, agent, new artist and brand activation, as well as awards for social activism, excellence and passion, and green operations.

Last year’s awards saw Wacken Open Air and Roskilde Festival pick up the biggest prizes of the night – best major festival and best line-up respectively. The Netherlands’ Mojo (Pinkpop, North Sea Jazz, Down the Rabbit Hole, Lowlands) won best promoter, with CAA’s Mike Greek earning the agent of the year award.

Tickets for the 2019 awards ceremony at De Oosterpoort, Groningen, are available here, with tribune tickets priced at €30. Premium tickets, which include access to the cocktail hour, a three-course dinner, a seat at the awards show and access to the after party, cost €100.

See all the winners from last year’s European Festival Awards here.

European Festival Awards 2018: The winners


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Biggest-ever IFF 2019 sells out

The fifth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF) has sold out in advance of the 24 to 26 September event, with 800 delegates attending from 40 markets, 40 agency showcases and a keynote interview with Rock Werchter’s Herman Schueremans.

The invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents takes place in Camden, North London. This year’s edition has doubled the amount of networking space around the main venue, Dingwalls, and introduced pop-up agency offices on both days.

“We’ve grown a bit again this year, so have had to pay off a few market stall holders to make room,” says ILMC MD and IFF co-founder Greg Parmley. “Looking back over the last five years we’ve been very lucky – not just with the weather, but fortunate to have had tremendous support from our agency partners, many who’ve backed IFF since year one.”

Partner agencies on IFF include 13 Artists, ATC Live, CAA, ITB, Paradigm, Primary, Solo, WME, UTA and X-ray Touring. Artists confirmed to perform during the various agency showcases include Squid, Sports Team, Life, Happyness, Chinchilla, Niklas Paschburg, Easy Life and multi-platinum-selling rockers the Darkness.

“We’ve grown a bit again this year, so have had to pay off a few market stall holders to make room”

Conference topics at IFF 5 include festival billing, consolidation, competition from new market entrants, gender splits on line-ups, and niche events, while the IFF Keynote interview is Rock Werchter founder and Live Nation Belgium head Herman Schueremans.

With IFF reaching a milestone fifth edition, amongst the various dinners and events is a joint birthday party on Thursday 26 September with European metal festival behemoth Wacken Open Air (30 this year), and Japan’s Summer Sonic (20 this year).

Other new elements at the event include Knowledge and Green Hubs featuring innovative suppliers and sustainability experts, while hosted speed meetings and a delegate portal return for the third year, supported by the Department of International Trade.

Full event information is online at www.iff.rocks.

 


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Superstruct buys into Wacken promoter ICS

Superstruct Entertainment has invested in Germany’s International Concert Service (ICS), adding leading metal event Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) to its stable of European festivals.

The Superstruct-ICS deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is structured as an “investment and partnership agreement”, in which each company invests in the other, according to Superstruct. The company has similar arrangements with Norway’s Øya Festival, acquired last August, and, more recently, Next Events, the company behind German hip-hop festival Parookaville.

In addition to W:O:A, its flagship festival, ICS produces and promotes ancillary events including Hamburg Metal Dayz, Wacken Winter Nights and motorsports and music festival Werner Race.

ICS founders Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen, and the current leadership team, will remain in place after the transaction (the terms of which were not disclosed) closes.

In a joint statement, the pair say: “Joining the Superstruct network is terrific news for our team and our fans. We will continue providing world-class experiences through our portfolio of live events, and now we are able to additionally benefit from a partner with a global network and experience. This will help us grow further and make what we do even better.

“We are very excited to join forces with ICS, the global leaders in metal”

“We very much look forward to working with the Superstruct team to continue pushing the envelope. Our goal is always to inspire and enthuse heavy metal fans around the world and to make people happy with our live activities.”

All 75,000 tickets for Wacken Open Air 2020 sold out in just 21 hours, following a successful 30th-anniversary event with Slayer, Sabaton and Prophets of Rage this summer.

James Barton, CEO of Superstruct, says: “We are very excited to join forces with ICS, the global leaders in metal. Led by Holger and Thomas, and supported by an experienced team overseeing a portfolio of quality events, we are confident that together we can continue to expand ICS and take the company and its events to the next level.”

Superstruct Entertainment, backed by private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners, additionally owns and operates Sziget (Hungary), Flow Festival (Finland), Sónar (Spain) and Spanish party promoter Elrow. In addition to next events, its most recent acquisitions are Down the Drain (Northside, Tinderbox) in Denmark and several UK events formerly owned by Global.

Read IQ’s special report on 30 years of Wacken Open Air here.

 


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Wacken 2020 sells out in 21 hours

The 30th edition of Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) closed on Saturday 3 August, with “all expectations fulfilled” and tickets for next year’s festival already cleared out.

Wacken 2019 took place from 1 to 3 August. Acts playing across the three-day festival included Slayer, Parkway Drive, Prophets of Rage and Sabaton.

“This year’s Wacken really was fantastic,” W:O:A co-founder Thomas Jensen tells IQ. ”I couldn’t have asked for any more music-wise, performances all round were of a great quality.”

Jensen admits that customers got “a bit damp”, but says the festival team “can’t complain”. Part of the festival site was closed off on Friday, in anticipation of a possible lightning storm, but opened again shortly after.

“We were lucky with the weather in the end,” says the Wacken co-founder, adding that “the crew did a tremendous job, as always.”

Tickets for next year’s festival went on sale on Sunday at 11 p.m., with all 75,000 tickets selling out in just 21 hours.

The speed of ticket sales for the 2020 event surpasses that of last year. Wacken shifted tickets for its anniversary event in just over one week.

“This year’s Wacken really was fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for any more music-wise”

“We […] are honestly overwhelmed by what just happened,” reads a statement by festival organisers, thanking fans for their “incredible loyalty”.

The statement reveals next year’s international focus will be on South- and Central America, “for a metal journey into the realms of the Mayans and Aztecs.”

Last year, Wacken joined forces with Electronic Sports League (ESL) to introduce its very own 1,800 square-metre esports arena, allowing festivalgoers to compete in amateur tournaments, set to the soundtrack of heavy metal.

Other features of the festival include concerts in Wacken’s “metal church”, a 1,300 square-metre onsite supermarket, a  cinema area dedicated to films about the world of metal and the Middle Ages-themed Wackinger Village.

Wacken 2020 will take place from 30 July to 1 August. Already announced acts include Judas Priest, Amon Amarth, Mercyful Fate and At the Gates.

Jensen explained the simple ethos behind Wacken in a recent IQ article: “We weren’t thinking: what is the best music to put onstage at Wacken? The question was: how do we get enough people to Wacken for this metal show?”

Read the rest of IQ‘s Wacken anniversary feature here.

Wacken to the Jungle: How W:O:A became a world-leading metal brand


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