Eurovision: Europe’s Live Business Takes Off As Midem Launches Inaugural Live Summit

When it comes to European festivals, the continent has far more to offer than just Glastonbury and many of the events are only a few hours travel from each other or, for many Americans, a Eurail pass away.

There’s Belgium’s Rock Werchter, a mere two-and-a-half-hour train journey from London.

This July 5-8 close to 90,000 people will convene for a line-up that includes U.S. artists like Queens Of The Stone Age, The Killers, Anderson .Paak, Jack White, Pearl Jam, Fleet Foxes, and Nine Inch Nails, among the many.
Rock Werchter 2017
Courtesy Rock Werchter
– Rock Werchter 2017
in Belgium

Just another three-and-a-half-hour train ride from Werchter is Paris, where Lollapalooza successfully launched a 60,000-capacity offshoot last July (bringing the number of Lolla countries up to six). Live Nation President of Europe-Concerts John Reid called it “a trusted and unique brand.” And indeed the 2018 edition in Paris just added Depeche Mode, Travis Scott, Kasabian and Diplo to its lineup.

One, if they wished, could continue the journey to Berlin, where the second European Lollapalooza takes place, but that doesn’t start until September. So why not leave Paris early instead, and head west, for the last day of France’s largest music festival, Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix in the west of Brittany, just in time to catch Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, Fatboy Slim and French rapper Orelsan? Festival founder Jerome Trehorel told Pollstar that he had to sell 180,000 tickets just to break even while keeping ticket prices low. He hits that mark every year with some 280K attending last year.

Spain and Portugal are relatively close, but their flagship festivals, including Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Porto or BBK Live in Bilbao, happen between May and July; but a flight to Budapest only takes two hours, and the country’s Sziget Festival starts Aug. 8. This year’s line-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Shawn Mendes, Kygo, Mumford & Sons and Dua Lipa among many others.

Sziget’s 24th edition in 2016 broke all previous records, when a total of 496,000 people visited the Island of Freedom (Sziget means island; it takes place on the Danube, Europe’s second largest river).
Sziget 2017
– Sziget 2017
Surfing the crowd

U.K. booking agent Steve Strange of X-ray Touring calls Sziget “probably one of the nicest and best-run events.” Strange has long ceased looking upon Eastern Europe as just an “emerging market” and mentions other developed fests like the Open’er and Off Festival, both in Poland, as further examples.
“We get many inquiries for artists to go to Russia these days and I’ve had many successful shows there,” says Strange. “There’s lots of new venues popping up, and the professionalism in the Eastern European markets has improved immensely over the last few years.”
But it’s not just the east of the continent. “Europe in its entirety is producing some great festivals, anything from late May right through early September, including the old classics like Rock Werchter or Roskilde,” Strange continues. “There are lots of other [festivals] cropping up all over the place, run by the right promoters, which will help keep professionalism intact.”

Strange is also impressed by the abundance of events in some of the comparatively small countries. The Netherlands, for instance, has a population of 17 million people, but has an endless list of quality music events throughout summer: Amsterdam Open Air, Pinkpop, Best Kept Secret, Down The Rabbit Hole, Awakening and North Sea Jazz Festival, among others.
“It’s quite amazing how some markets can sustain so many events in summer, places like Holland or Belgium,” Strange says, “which are relatively small countries in the grand scheme of things. But they have a fantastic amount of great events.”

It’s difficult at best quantifying the European live market as a whole, because there’s no live industry body comparable to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). A few of the larger markets publish their ticket sales revenues. IFPI, however, publishes recorded music figures, which can serve as an indicator for the continent’s live entertainment potential.

Streaming has become an important metric for live professionals in determining an artist’s fanbase, their touring potential in various parts of the world and ultimately their routing. And several agents have confirmed that festivals assign artist slots according to their streaming figures in the respective countries.

According to IFPI’s 2017 report, the worldwide music market grew 8.1 percent year-on-year, amounting to $17.3 billion total. Europe grew at a slower rate than the year prior, by 4.3 percent in 2017 versus 9.1 percent in 2016, reaching $5.7 billion. Digital revenues on the continent grew 17.5 percent, and accounted for 43 percent of overall European revenues.

Streaming was up a whopping 30.3 percent with Europe’s largest markets, Germany, U.K. and France, all seeing streaming revenue growth of 46.2 percent, 41.1 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively.

Germany ranked No. 3 among the world’s most valuable recorded music industries, only behind the U.S. and Japan, according to IFPI. In its most recent live entertainment figures, released by the country’s promoter’s association bdv, for the period between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, Germany’s events industry generated total sales of €4.99 billion ($6.2 billion). This marks an increase of 31 percent, compared with 2013, when bdv last released figures. When looking at live music only, revenues reached €3.6 billion ($4.3 billion), a 36 percent increase from 2013 to 2017.
The latest live music figures from the U.K. – No. 4 in the IFPI report – date from 2016, when live music contributed to £1 billion ($1.4 billion) of overall music revenues. £656 million ($888 million) of that was generated through boxoffice spend on tickets. A separate report focusing on music tourism estimated that live music fans generated £4 billion ($5.4 billion), if one included direct and indirect spending.

Germany and the U.K. alone generated some $5.7 billion in live music revenues, which is exactly the amount of the entire continent’s recorded music revenues, or 33 percent of the world’s recorded music revenues. Removing the U.S. from IFPI’s statistics, which accounts for $6.35 billion of global recorded music revenues, the economic power of live in Europe becomes even more obvious.

No wonder then that Midem, one of the world’s biggest gatherings of the international music industry, is introducing a brand-new Live Summit to this year’s confab in association with Pollstar dedicated to all aspects of the live business.

“The live music sector is in great shape” Midem director Alexandre Deniot told Pollstar, noting that the live market in Europe has been growing steadily for years. “Europeans go to concerts and festivals more than ever,” he said. “Just look at the launch and success of the many new festivals in Europe such as Lollapalooza Paris or Rock in Rio in Portugal or the building of new venues and arenas, such as the 40,000-capacity U Arena in Paris.”
MIDEM 2017
– MIDEM 2017
The long-standing music conference has increased its live lineup. Concerts take place on the beach

Reflecting this global trend, Midem’s Live Summit will feature a full day of live programming with some of the industry’s biggest names taking part in the panels, discussions, one-on-ones and keynotes.

One of this year’s Live Summit panelists, UTA’s global head of music, David Zedeck, told Pollstar he is seeing a major rise in tour markets around the world. “With the increased amount of international markets available and the growth of the festival business,” he said, “a tour cycle can now extend up to two years and can easily include 125-150 shows.”

Zedeck added that his team now “plans, routes and builds clients’ tours knowing there are various international anchor dates such as festivals, award shows and events that we want to include in a client’s tour cycle.” He noted that “some U.S. summer tour routings get compressed or split into legs to accommodate the June-July and/or August European festival season. With so many options available, we start planning these tours further in advance than we have in the past.”

With so much international live industry growth, Deniot says he intends to reflect the increase. “The Live Summit is only the first step,” he said, “and we want to grow it.”