With 2019 slowly coming to a close we're often asked how our year has been. The short answer: "Very good." The long answer: "Very good, thank you. Do you want to know why?" For those who do we've compiled some interesting questions our CEO Folkert answered for Audience Mag.
Has it been a good year for the company and how successful were Hurricane and Southside?
Our year has been exceptionally great so far. We continued to grow our operations strategically and united with Swedish promoter “Woah Dad Live”. Our cooperation started with Håkan Hellström’s groundbreaking record of selling out four Ullevi stadium shows (each with a capacity of approx. 70 000) in just a couple of hours. Another exciting step was the recent opening of our new office in Poland. I've been following the development of the Polish live music market for a long time and see great potential there.
Of course, we also celebrated unprecedented successes with Ed Sheeran. Ed’s “Divide” tour broke several records of music history and we are very proud of having been an integral part of this success. Overall, we’ve promoted 28 concerts in seven European countries, among them some the biggest concerts that Ed has given so far. For example, the two shows at Hockenheim counted 100,000 visitors each whereas the shows in Prague (145,000 visitors for two consecutive evenings) and Helsinki (108,000 visitors for two consecutive evenings) were the biggest concerts that ever took place in the Czech Republic and Finland.
Considering Hurricane and Southside: We’re more than happy with both festivals this year. Our strong line-up (headed by Foo Fighters, Mumford & Sons, Die Toten Hosen, The Cure, Macklemore and Tame Impala), new investments in the festival grounds and perfect weather made sure that our visitors feel the same. With 68,000 and 60,000 daily visitors, Hurricane and Southside performed well. Another indicator for this year’s success is the presale for 2020, which is also going strong. We’ve sold a record-breaking 40,000 tickets just during the first two days after both events. Just now we’ve just announced a host of new exciting acts, including Kings of Leon, Martin Garrix, Twenty One Pilots, Deichkind and the already confirmed Seeed. Given those names and the fact that our visitors had a great time in 2019, we’re very confident that next year will be even better.
The market is very crowded, do you expect to see some festivals fail in the coming years?
The market is indeed saturated at the moment. Additionally, the last couple of years were characterized by inclement weather, a higher public awareness for terror-threats and therefore a decreased momentum in demand that concerns the whole industry. So it’s likely that we will see many new and inexperienced players left behind. However, we’re happy to say that the results of our festival season indicate a significant upward trend.
You had some huge shows in 2019, how is 2020 shaping up for concerts?
True, 2019 was exceptional thanks to Ed Sheeran. But 2020 also has a lot of highlights in stock for us, for example Céline Dion, James Blunt, Taylor Swift or Simple Minds.
Is enough being done to tackle secondary ticketing in Germany and has there been any significant progress?
It’s important that the industry joined forces with FEAT, the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing. Public and political pressure are slowly changing things for the better, one example being the plummeting website traffic for Viagogo after they were banned from advertising through Google.
There has been talk that ticket prices have risen too much in recent years. What do you think?
Sure, the prices were rising, and we as promoters did our utmost to dampen this development for our audiences. What some people understandably forget is that steeper prices are not in our interest. However, a slight increase was inevitable since production costs are rising continuously, not to speak of artist fees which more than doubled in the last 10 years. Nonetheless, we are confident that our events are still worth their admission. We offer international artists and continue to develop our events so that our visitors do not only keep memories of the music but of the event as a whole, which is especially tangible at our festivals.
Will you be making any changes to the festivals next year?
Sure, all our festivals are being continuously developed. One important factor is storytelling, so M’era Luna or Plage Noire both evolve around a rich background story that influences how the festivals look and feel each year. Also Hurricane, Southside and Highfield are developing in this regard, although we take good care that the music stays in the centre of everything we do. But exciting and beautiful festival grounds that really want to be discovered go a long way in making a festival truly special.