Too Many Events: Download Germany Called Off

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“Abgesagt” means “called off” or “canceled.” The second edition of Download Germany won’t go down this year.

Live Nation GSA had to cancel the second edition of Download Germany, scheduled to take place June 23-24 at the Hockenheimring race course, citing production issues resulting from this year’s (more than) packed summer season.

“Despite the first-class line-up, the massive number of open-air events this summer made organization and implementation considerably more difficult,” a German statement from Live Nation GSA translates.

The resulting costs and obstacles in terms of production proved to be insurmountable, the statement continues, before adding that tickets already purchased would of course be refunded by Ticketmaster in the coming days.

Download Germany premiered last year with Metallica as headliners. This year’s festival got expanded to two days, headlined by Slipknot, Volbeat, and The Prodigy.

Live Nation GSA declined to comment further.

See: Metallica To Headline Download Germany Premiere

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Fans watching the performance of Metallica at the premiere of Download Germany. (Photo by Uwe Anspach/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Many live professionals have been warning about the oversaturation of the market, not just in Germany, but Europe-wide.

Pollstar spoke about this with Prof. Jens Michow, a veteran of the German live biz, founder of the country’s Live Entertainment Award, and former president of its promoters association BDKV, at the start of the year 2023.

He warned that this industry was “far away from overcoming any challenges. During the lockdowns, we were all of the opinion that the people’s hunger for culture would be so huge, that every concert would be sold out once the crisis was over. We were wrong. Whenever concerts are full today, most of the tickets were already sold in 2019 – on that year’s cost basis, and not taking into account today’s inflation as well as the cost increases on all fronts.

“However, looking at the huge festivals of last summer with up to 120,000 attenders, politicians and media people presumed that the business must run well again. It’s almost like they thought we were only pretending to still be in trouble. But there are festival promoters who lost a fortune with sold-out festivals and concerts.

“If you look past the concerts of the superstars, most of the new concerts announced during the pandemic or later this year all but flopped. Of course, the amount of postponed concerts has led to an oversaturation of the market, but there are more reasons why concerts aren’t even close to being sold out. Some people are afraid to catch the virus, some changed their leisure time activities during the pandemic, others are waiting to see how reliable concert announcements really are and are therefore refraining from buying tickets. And now we have the latest attack [on people’s spending power], which is the development of costs in general. If your heating costs amount to double or even triple of what you used to pay, the first place you start saving are the expenses you spend on leisure.”

Reeperbahn Festival’s Alex Schulz took the same line a few months earlier, when we spoke ahead of the 17th Reeperbahn Festival in September 2022. He confirmed that pandemic challenges had been replaced by post-pandemic challenges. “In autumn we thought in good faith that we might fall back to a pre-pandemic routine as far as the production of the festival is concerned. That is absolutely not the case. We’re dealing with a combination of pandemic-caused effects and an oversaturated market. The younger audience in particular has to make tough budget decisions, as they could go to three shows by artists they love every day. At the same time, the looming rise in energy costs as an effect of the war is causing people to spend less money, delegates as well as festival visitors.”

Simon Jones, AEG Presents’ senior vice president of international touring, a man with a complete overview over the European territories, told Pollstar, when speaking for his Impact International Honors in November last year: “Over-saturation has been a major factor in the cases of some of the acts I work with not selling anywhere near the amount they enjoyed previously.”

Chris Ortiz, president of Spanish promoter Riff Proucciones, which had a record 2022, said about 2023: “People are going to more shows than ever this year. But there’s also a lot of saturation. Any given weekend, even in provincial cities, you’ll have eight, nine, ten shows to choose from. Whatever hasn’t been on sale already, will have a really tough time selling because people have made their plans.”

Increased costs on all fronts combined with an unprecedented amount of events and reduced spending power could be the reason, Download Germany isn’t the last major event in Europe to cancel in 2023.

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