Impact International: UK/Euro Honors
Obsessed With Live: Jordi Herreruela Is Fighting Resistance
Jordi Herreruela, owner and CEO of Barcelona Events Musicals SL and director of Cruïlla Festival in the Catalan capital, is tired of the uncertainty.
“Nothing we have learned so far allows us to understand how the virus will behave tomorrow. I have the feeling that health experts have the same certainty about the virus that economists had about the financial crisis of 2008. I think we must learn to live with health protocols and take some risks.”
His frustration is understandable. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, live music and large events have been pointed at as the cause for the virus spreading, although we have not been allowed to carry out any activity. Live music has not caused any of the five waves of COVID that Spain has experienced and, despite this, ours is the only sector that has not been allowed to resume activity yet.”
Herreruela’s “obsession” of the past 18 months “has been to demonstrate that it is possible to apply health protocols to live shows, generating spaces with equal or lower risks than any other business activity.” Several pilot events, including a 5,000-cap concert in March at Palau Sant Jordi and Cruïlla Festival in July, capped at 25,000 per day, “have proved it,” Herreruela says, adding that he’s probably never done anything as difficult as pulling off Cruïlla this summer.
The many protocols, short turnaround times, the pressure: “All eyes were on us,” he says. He hopes “this is not the model for the future, because I wish to leave COVID-19 behind. But if a suitable model for festivals during a bad epidemiological situation was needed, here’s one.”
Herreruela says it’s becoming increasingly “complicated to be an independent promoter in such a changing and uncertain world. It takes a certain financial power, but it is also important to work with flexible and dynamic structures.
The majors have been standing still while the independent promoters have been looking for solutions from which now everyone can draw conclusions. We should bring together these two strengths: Dynamism and financial muscle.”
He believes that for this business to become truly sustainable, it needs to stop asking, “who is the biggest,” and start asking “who is the best.” A sustainable future, according to the promoter, lies in “medium-sized events, limiting capacity, investing [much more] in the audience’s experience. More exclusive events, more segmented for each audience type. It requires rethinking business standards; artists and all members of the industry will need to work more and earn a little less. There will be a lot of resistance, but it will be inevitable.”