Two of the first festivals to stage after restrictions lifted in some Australian states implemented COVID-safe measures that were praised for their ingenuity.
When the Good Day Sunshine in Western Australia had to shift from late March to Oct. 31, Ross Macpherson, CEO of events promoter and artist management firm Macro Music, devised a strategy to keep its 5,000 patrons within current 2 square-meter per person requirements.
He moved to a larger site, a park on the Busselton foreshore. This allowed it to be split into four zones, each with its own entrance and exit, bars, toilets, security and cleaning teams.
A round revolving stage, aptly called The Turntable, is set in the center of the zones, for maximum view of solo troubadours John Butler, Xavier Rudd and Josh Pyke.
Macpherson told Pollstar “Once they choose their zone, patrons are restricted to it. The 1,250-capacity of each fits in with current crowd requirements, which got the tick from local council, police, health and other stakeholders.”
Free sanitizing bottles will be regularly topped up with continual messaging on large screens on the need for physical distancing.
“We’re encouraging people to bring their own picnic baskets and blankets to create small social units within their zones.”
In Brisbane, XR Events set up Remix Hotel with the Ovolo The Valley hotel in the Fortitude Valley precinct Oct. 9-11.
Patrons restricted to two a room can livestream international EDM acts as Grove Armada, Marshall Jefferson, Jason Bye and Rachel May and 16 local DJs. They can also access streams in other closed spaces while visits to the hotel’s restaurant and a pool will be strictly monitored.
XR’s Michael Watt said. “Remix Hotel is a new concept that works within COVID-19 guidelines, it’s an entire weekend lifestyle experience like nothing that’s ever been done before. We’re so proud to be able to have some of the biggest names in clubland contributing to our event.”
Live Nation Promotes Roger Field To President, Asia Pacific
Live Nation is drawing together its Asia Pacific operations, promoting Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) CEO Roger Field to president, Asia Pacific. The appointment announced Sept. 21 sees him report to Asia Pacific chairman Alan Ridgeway.
Paul Antonio, current president of Asia and Middle East becomes COO of EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).
Field noted, “The cohesion of a true Asian Pacific organization presents significant opportunities for growth, not only for our business but for the professional development of our people and relationships.”
Field became CEO of Australia and NZ in 2017, seven years after he came on board to set up LN Australia with Luke Hede, now VP of touring.
Michael Coppel remains chairman in Australia.
In New Zealand, Mark Kneebone becomes managing director, reporting to Field, upped from co-head of promotions for ANZ since 2018. Chairman Stuart Clumpas steps down but stays as consultant.
According to Field, “New Zealand continues to prove itself as a market that leads the way in the return to live and Mark is a proven leader who has played a critical role in our overall success.
“This appointment further solidifies our commitment to NZ and will affirm the market as a significant player in the global live industry.”
In Japan, the changes mean that Kei Ikuta will take over in Japan from John Boyle, who has been president of Live Nation Japan since 2018. Boyle will move back to Los Angeles.
Rage’s Tom Morello Keynoting At BIGSOUND
Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello is a keynote speaker at the Oct. 21-22 virtual BIGSOUND conference.
He will discuss “activism, and how the guitar can be a divining rod for truth and justice. The world is at a dangerous crossroads and it’s time to feed the poor, fight the power, and rock the fuck out.”
Global breakthrough artist Tones & I also keynotes. Arts administrator and Boomerang festival promoter Rhoda Roberts and First Nation hip-hop artist and activist Ziggy Ramo discuss the Indigenous future of the biz.
Also speaking are singer songwriters Kev Carmody and Amy Shark, U.S. rapper Mumu Fresh, production veteran and CrewCare founder Howard Freeman and Johnann Ponniah, label head of I OH YOU.
Court Orders Falls Festival To Pay $7m To Crush Victims
The Supreme Court of Victoria ordered Ash Sounds Pty Ltd, owner of the Lorne, Victoria, stop of the five-state Falls Festival to pay A$6.97 million ($5 million) in damages to 77 patrons caught in a crush during the 2016 event.
On Dec. 30, after DMAs finished their set a 9:30 p.m., the crowd rushed to another tent to catch London Grammar. A bottleneck at the exit led to a crush, in which a third were left bloodied and with permanent injuries and 20 hospitalized.
Michaela Burke who headed a class action, suffered ongoing nerve damage.
Ash Sounds admitted liability a year later.
Kathryn Emeny of Maddens Lawyers, for the plaintiffs, said “These were young people in their late teens or early twenties… this horrific event really derailed their lives. Each group member is continuing to deal with that.”
Ash Sounds a statement, part of which read, “We hope that the settlement will bring some relief and closure for all of the participants.”
Victoria Government Unveils $13m Package For Venues, Biz Workers, To Survive Pandemic
In a substantial show of solidarity for Victoria’s live biz sector, the state’s government unveiled an impressive A$13 million ($9.49 million) urgent package to help it survive the current pandemic-caused shut-down and to prepare for recovery.
Premier Daniel Andrews said at its Sept. 20 launch, “In ordinary times, Victorian music venues hosts tens of thousands of gigs each year – reaching millions. We don’t want to lose Victoria’s music scene.”
About A$9 million ($6.5 million) was allocated to divvy up between 106 venues in Melbourne and the state to cover urgent overheads, help offset costs associated with enforcing patron caps and put COVID safe measures in place.
In a state-first, councils will be given stronger power to consider their cultural and economic value in the case of a redevelopment proposal by the owner of a site which includes a venue.
Another component of the package, the A$3 million ($2.19 million) Victorian Music Industry Recovery program, offers grants of between A$4,000 ($2,921) and A$50,000 ($36, 528) to support artists, managers, promoters, bookers, road crew and others to keep working, upscale and develop COVID-safe ways of working.
Alliances with ten associations repping festival promoters, artist managers, road crews, record labels, and the First Nation, disabled, LGBT, multicultural, and regional music communities created projects to strengthen them.
The 11-year old Auckland stop of Australia’s Laneway festival will not go ahead January 2021 due to “The current circumstances surrounding border closures and the unpredictability of future COVID-19 outbreaks (which) have created an extremely tough environment for festivals.”
This also means no international headliners; this year The 1975, Charli XCX and Ruel helped draw 12,000 to Albert Park.
Organizers confirmed a return in 2022. “We have decided that it would be best to take a year off in New Zealand so that we’re in a strong position to come back.” Updates on Australian shows will be made “in the coming months.”