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FESTIVAL FALLOUT:
THE GLASTO EFFECT

Shock waves are being felt around the touring world in the wake of the cancellation of June’s Glastonbury Festival as the  industry wonders if the “new normal” is coming later rather than sooner. The entire U.K. festival season is now in doubt.

“Glasto takes four months to build but others can do it in three weeks, so they will wait it out for a while before pulling the plug—probably around March,” one agent said.

The schedule of high-profile U.K. events opens 6/4-6 with Andy Copping and Live Nation’s Download Festival and includes AEG’s Hyde Park shows, scheduled to kick off 7/9-10 with Pearl Jam, which are already eyeing a move to September. The celebrated John Giddings-Live Nation-owned Isle of Wight Festival (6/17-20), with Lewis CapaldiDuran Duran and Snow Patrol set as headliners, is proceeding as planned for now but may well move.

Postponements and cancellations in Europe, meanwhile, could be announced as soon as early February. Word is expected soon from Nova Rock in Vienna (6/2-5), Marek Lieberberg’s Rock im Park and Rock am Ring in Germany (6/11-13) and Pinkpop in the Netherlands (6/18-20). On the other hand, Hellfest in France (6/18-20) and Roskilde Fest in Denmark (6/26-7/3) are cautiously optimistic about moving ahead as planned this year.

Beyond June, the picture gets brighter. Promoters and agents in the U.K. and Europe remain hopeful that Live Nation’s Reading and Leeds in the U.K. (8/27-29) and others in late summer still have a chance to go on as scheduled. 

Glastonbury, the grandest of all summer festivals and certainly the U.K.’s largest, had already announced Paul McCartney as a headliner alongside a slew of other performers, including Diana RossCamila CabelloMuseDua Lipa, Primal Scream, Pet Shop Boys and Thom Yorke. Its second consecutive cancellation due to COVID-19 has many concerned that it may not recover.

Artists, managers, agents, promoters, attorneys and others are nonetheless committed to doing everything possible to get things in motion and save the touring business. The belief is that while 2021 will offer only marginal gains, it will set the stage—so to speak—for a phenomenal return in 2022.

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