Wireless cancels as more UK fests call time on 2020
Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival and an open-air the 1975 show are the latest losses to the UK’s 2020 summer calendar, in a week that also saw Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Music Festival and metal event Bloodstock move to 2021.
The UK’s summer festival season is looking increasingly uncertain, as organisers wait for the government to reveal details of its exit plan. The country has been in lockdown since 23 March.
“Wireless Festival will no longer be taking place this year,” reads a statement from organisers. “As you know we’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable.
“Subject to contract, Wireless Festival will be back next year on 2 to 4 July 2021 and will be worth the wait,” continue organisers, urging fans to “keep your eyes peeled” for news on the virtual edition of the festivals.
The urban music event, which had booked ASAP Rocky, D-Block Europe and Lil Uzi Thug for this year, has encountered licensing restrictions imposed by the local council around its home in Finsbury Park.
The promoter has also announced the cancellation of an eco-friendly show by the 1975 at Finsbury Park, scheduled for 11 July. The show, which was also to feature Charli XCX, Clairo and Pale Waves, was set to be the Manchester band’s biggest show ever.
“We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable”
Festival Republic had previously called off the 2020 outings of Download Festival, set to feature Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down, and Latitude, which had a line-up including Liam Gallagher, Haim and the Chemical Brothers.
This week also saw the cancellation of the 20,000-capacity Cornbury Music Festival, which was to feature Dido, Jack Savoretti and the Waterboys, as well as Judas Priest-headlined metal festival Bloodstock. Organisers say the event will be back for a bumper five-day edition in 2021.
Other major UK festivals to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak include Boomtown (Wu-Tang Clan, Underworld, the Libertines), Bluedot (Bjork, Metronomy, Groove Armada), Black Deer (Wilco, the Waterboys, the Dead South) and Y Not Festival (Royal Blood, Richard Ashcroft, Bombay Bicycle Club), adding to cancellations of AEG Presents’ All Points East and British Summer Time Hyde Park, Live Nation’s Parklife, Lovebox and Isle of Wight Festival, and Glastonbury Festival.
In Scotland, which has limited self-government within the UK, DF Concerts’ Trnsmt (Courteeners, Liam Gallagher, Lewis Capaldi) and Regular Music’s Summer Nights at the Bandstand (Rick Astley, Van Morrison, Primal Scream) cancelled after first minster Nicola Sturgeon suggested public gatherings would be banned for the foreseeable future.
In the neighbouring country of the Republic of Ireland, festivals including Longitude and All Together Now cancelled last month, as the government announced a blanket ban on events over 5,000 people until 31 August, although it recently indicated that smaller events would be permitted from 10 August.
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UK’s Y Not back under original management
Derbyshire’s Y Not Festival, the ex-Global event notably not acquired by either Superstruct or Broadwick when they divvied up that company’s festivals in April, is back in the control of previous owner Count of Ten.
“There’s been a bit of chat lately about the future of Y Not and we wanted to share some exciting news with you,” reads a statement from the festival, released yesterday (25 June). “As of last month, Y Not Festival is once again, independent and under the ownership of Count of Ten following a previous purchase by Global Festivals in 2016.”
Radio giant Global acquired Y Not and Oxford’s Truck Festival from Count of Ten in 2016, along with South West Four, Field Day, Boardmasters and Rewind from Impresario. Following its sale by Global, former stablemate Truck is now part Superstruct Entertainment.
Heading up the newly independent Count of Ten is operations manager Jason Oakley, who has been involved with Y Not since its inception, helping to grow the festival from a small grassroots event to one with over 25,000 attendees.
“We’re looking forward to what we believe will be an amazing future”
“We are incredibly excited for this new era for Y Not and we’re looking forward to what we believe will be an amazing future, working on the festival that’s meant so much to us all,” he says. “All our energy and focus is now on giving the Y Notters the best possible festivals that we can. We’re already excited to open the gates for 2019, which we are certain will be the best yet.”
Companies House records show Oakley became a director of Y Not Festivals UK Ltd and Count of Ten Ltd on 11 June. Oakley is also listed as a director of Brownstock UK Ltd, the holding company behind Chelmsford’s Brownstock festival, and his own firm, JO Worldwide Ltd.
Count of Ten founders Alex Dixon and Ralph Broadbent ceased to be directors of the firm in 2016, ahead of the Global acquisition.
Artists playing Y Not 2019 include Foals, Elbow, Two Door Cinema Club, Franz Ferdinand, You Me at Six and Wolf Alice. For 2020, the new owners are asking ‘Y Notters’ to fill in a survey about which artists and other content they want to see at next year’s event.
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2017: The year in review
Missed our regular news updates this year (or recently emerged, Brendan Frasier in Blast from the Past-style, from a nuclear fallout shelter)? Team IQ are logging off for Christmas – so here, in no particular order, are some of the key stories that shaped the year in live music…
In a story that’s set to continue into the new year and beyond, the final few months of 2017 have seen #MeToo – the campaign to stamp out sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, spurred by the allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein – cross over into the music business, with a growing number of female musicians and execs reporting similar behaviour in our industry.
IQ asked in October if live music has a “Harvey Weinstein problem”, and a number of prominent international female industry figures told us they, too, have been subject to, or witnessed, inappropriate behaviour or sexual assault while working in the live business.
Since then, organised movements campaigning against sexual misconduct in music have sprung up in Sweden (#närmusikentystnar, ‘when the music stops’), Australia (#meNOmore) and the UK (Stop 2018), while the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has launched a dedicated, confidential helpline for victims of sexual harassment in the electronic music business.
In the agency world, meanwhile, reps from all major multinational agencies told IQ last month they are intensifying their efforts to ensure the safety of their employees and clients – and CAA has confirmed to IQ it has cancelled its annual Friday pre-Golden Globes party in order to establish a legal defence fund for sexual harassment cases.
The Manchester Arena attack, the shootings at Route 91 Harvest and BPM Festival, the Reina nightclub bombing and other attacks on innocent fans of live entertainment this year will forever live in infamy – and remain a stark reminder that, despite increased security and the willingness of fans to keep coming to shows, they remain attractive targets for terrorism.
What should also be remembered, however, is the way the industry responded to the evil of these attacks: From the One Love Manchester and We are Manchester charity concerts to the candlelit vigils and fundraising for victims of the Route 91 Harvest attack, those working in live music, just as after the Bataclan attack, stepped up to plate to lend a hand to the victims and all those affected.
Those working in live music stepped up to plate to help to victims of terror
Who could forget Fyre Festival? Cancelled flights, limp cheese sandwiches and disaster relief tents? A festival that went so badly wrong it’s become a byword for badly organised events – the Giant Cheeseboard, for example, was only this week called “London’s answer to Fyre Festival” – and its promoter arrested by the FBI?
Yes, Fyre Festival this year became the gold standard for festival disasters, but it wasn’t alone. The inaugural Hope & Glory festival – described in the NME as “Fyre Festival with none of the lols” – was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues for facilities and sets being cancelled or running over, while Y Not Festival was cancelled after the site turned into a mudbath as a result of heavy rain.
Canada’s Pemberton Music Festival 2017, meanwhile, was axed with less than two months to go, after its parent companies were placed into administration with debts of almost $10m.
… and tours de force
Despite these headline-grabbing disasters, however, the 2017 summer festival season was a largely successful one compared to last year, when severe weather, including lightning strikes, forced the cancellation of open-air events in Europe and North America.
The organisers of festivals as diverse as Trsnmt (UK), Haven (Denmark), Download (UK), Istanbul Jazz Festival (Turkey), Hurricane/Southside (Germany), Baloise Session and OpenAir St Gallen (both Switzerland), Lollapalooza Paris (France) and BST Hyde Park (UK) all reported healthy attendances in 2017 – and IQ’s recent European Festival Report 2017 revealed that despite increased competition, a majority of the continent’s festival operators feel optimistic about the future of their events.
A majority of Europe’s festival operators feel optimistic about the future of their events
By IQ’s reckoning, Live Nation/Ticketmaster made three more acquisitions than in 2016, when eight companies came under the Live Nation Entertainment umbrella, further bolstering its credentials as the world’s largest live entertainment company.
They were: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion (venue) in December; United Concerts (promoter) in October; Strobe Labs (data platform) in August; Openair Frauenfeld (festival) in July; Isle of Wight Festival in March; Bluestone Entertainment (promoter) and Ticketpro (ticket agency) in February; and Metropolis Music (promoter) Cuffe & Taylor (promoter), Bottlerock Napa Valley (festival) and CT Touring (promoter) in January.
Rain-grey town, known for its sound…
An IQ/Songkick study revealed in September that the British capital is by far Europe’s live music capital by number of events – and the third-biggest concert market in the world, behind only New York and Los Angeles.
There were 19,940 total live music events in London in 2016 – more than San Francisco (13,672), Paris (11,248) and Chicago (11,224) – and the city is on course to hold its no1 spot in 2017.
Looking ahead to 2018, a raft of new festivals looks set to further cement London’s status as the live music capital of Europe, with AEG and Live Nation/Festival Republic both planning new events and local councils opening up more green space to meet the growing demand for live entertainment.
Live Nation/Ticketmaster made three more acquisitions than in 2016
Google to touts: Don’t be evil
Google last month dealt what could be a fatal blow to the likes of Viagogo and Seatwave, announcing that from January 2018 secondary ticketing sites would be subject to stringent restrictions on their use of Google AdWords.
Under the new measures – which come on the back of UK politicians accusing sites such as Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! of violating Google’s Adwords policies on misrepresentation, and increased scrutiny of ticket touting in Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, Ireland and more – Google will force ticket resellers to list the face value of tickets, make clear they are resale sites and stop implying they are an ‘official’ seller or lose access to AdWords.
Google’s crackdown comes as national authorities, especially in the UK, continue to make life harder for touts, with National Trading Standards last week making four arrests as part of an investigation into the “practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk”.
The end of the road for ‘industrial-scale’ secondary ticketing, or merely another hurdle to be overcome? Time will tell…
The booking agency world continued to consolidate in 2017 with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships. Notable was Paradigm which entered into a strategic partnership with the UK’s X-Ray Touring in April and acquired Chicago- and California-based agency Monterey International in August.
Among other moves, July saw Helsinki-based Fullsteam Agency announce that it had acquired Rähinä Live, while September saw K2 Agency swoop for Factory Music. Meanwhile, the ongoing merry-go-round of agents swapping desks between companies continued – and if rumours are to be believed, 2018 will see this trend continue apace.
The booking agency world continued to consolidate in 2017 with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships
In addition to the beloved performers we lost in 2017 (RIP Tom Petty, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Chuck Berry, Greg Allman and many others), several equally revered live music business figures also passed away this year.
Peter Rieger, the founder of Cologne-based promoter Peter Rieger Konzertagentur (PRK), died on 29 January at the age of 63 – “far too young,” said friend and colleague John Giddings. “This has been a sad and dismal week,” added manager and former agent Ed Bicknell. “I’ve lost three dear pals: John Wetton of King Crimson, Asia and UK, Deke Leonard of Man, and now Peter. […] He was a total professional, a pleasure to deal with and funny – definitely funny. Which is what every promoter needs: a sense of humour.”
Another live industry veteran who passed far too young was tour manager, artist liaison and ILMC’s longtime producer, Alia Dann Swift, who died aged 57 in May. “She was the best,” said CAA’s Emma Banks. “A beautiful human being, a great friend, a smart and an inspiring woman.”
“Alia was renowned for her warmth, her tireless support of those around her, a perennial sense of humour and a no-nonsense approach,” added ILMC head Greg Parmley. “She was a widely loved and respected figure in the touring world who will be deeply and entirely missed.”
The live music world was once again rocked in August by the shock death of well-liked Primary Talent co-founder Dave Chumbley after a short illness.
“Dedicated to his artists to a fault, Dave was responsible for many hugely successful careers in the global music industry,” said manager Terry Blamey, with whom Chumbley worked for years representing Kylie Minogue. “He was a talented, wonderful man taken from us way to soon. Lynn and I loved him like a brother, dear friend, and we will miss him dreadfully.”
Other tragic losses to the business in 2017 included ShowSec founder Mick Upton, tour travel agent Mary Cleary, Israeli promoter Shmuel Zemach, Reading Festival founder Harold Pendleton, Washington, DC, promoter Jack Boyle and Live Nation Belgium booker Marianne Dekimpe.
Y Not Festival cancels final day
Bad weather forced the cancellation of Friday’s headline act and the entire final day of the UK’s Y Not Festival, as the site became a mudbath.
Sunday was due to see artists such as Happy Mondays and Two Door Cinema Club perform at the 25,000-capacity festival. Friday’s headliner The Vaccines were also unable to play due to the weather.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry about last night. Were all ready to come out and play for you when we were told it wasn’t safe,” the band tweeted.
Organisers have told fans they’ll provide information about refunds “in the coming days”.
In a statement, they say: “Unfortunately we’ve had to take the difficult decision to cancel Sunday due to the adverse weather conditions across the weekend, after consulting all the relevant authorities.
“Ending Y Not like this was an incredible difficult decision and we are as disappointed as you are.”
“The safety of our guests, performers and crew is our primary concern and the potential risk was too severe for Sunday to go ahead. We are very sorry for the disappointment and disruption caused to everyone who was looking forward to the final day of the festival.
“Ending Y Not festival 2017 like this was an incredibly difficult decision and we are as disappointed as you are.”
Y Not was bought by media giant Global in October last year. As well as 14 festivals, the company owns Global Radio (Heart, Capital, Smooth, Classic FM), Global Television (Capital TV, Heart TV) and Global Entertainment, which includes music publishing, management and live and touring divisions.
“Changes in the industry” force BSTK cancellation
Boutique British festival Brownstock is to close after 12 years.
Brownstock (BSTK), which had been held at Morris Farm in Chelmsford, Essex – close to the V Festival site – since 2005, was programmed by IME Music and promoted by London-based Count of Ten, which last month sold its Y Not and Truck Festivals to the Global group.
No line-up had yet been announced for the 2017 festival. Tinie Tempah, Mark Ronson and Kelis headlined in 2016.
“After 12 years of incredible music, amazing people and the best memories, it is with heavy hearts that we have made the difficult decision to shut the farm gates and no longer hold BSTK Festival,” festival management said today.
“Due to changes in the industry we can no longer deliver the event we set out to create”
“Due to changes in the industry we can no longer deliver the event we set out to create and that we feel you deserve.
“We will cherish the memories you have all helped us create, as we hope you will too. We will always be proud of what you all helped us to create and the cultural influence in the local area, without your support there wouldn’t have been a festival.”
Ticketholders for BSTK 2017 will be refunded.