#012 We Make Events

⏯ #WeMakeEvents


today’s read... 10 minutesSeptember 1st, 2020     Issue #012


Initiatives around the globe are trying to bring back events both indoors and out. Best laid plans are put on hold in Germany and New Zealand. And we shed light on an important movement in our industry that will light venues in red tonight, in a city near you.


  • Brooklyn Bowl and Live Nation team up to expand the Bowl to Philadelphia. True to tradition, the Pennsylvania venue will include a stage in addition to the bowling lanes. We’re taking it as a sign of hope that when live events do return, they’ll come back in a big way.

  • Summerfest expands to three weekends in 2021, keeping ticket prices at a slim $23 for general admission. On the surface the decision may seem tied to the pandemic, but festival owner Don Smiley says it was prompted by low attendance and spending on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays of previous years’ events.

  • Rolling Loud teams up with Twitch to deliver "Loud Stream." The new digital festival series will include weekly programming for three upcoming events, including a regular show with founder Tariq Cherif where he'll be sharing unreleased music.

  • The U.K.’s Institute of Occupational Medicine has released a great reopening guide specifically geared toward nightlife businesses and entertainment venues. It is a crucial tool for protecting jobs and the live events industry as a whole during a profound governmental absence of clear reopening strategies and financial support.

  • Latvia’s floating concert was such a success that the format will be adapted to bring floating movie theaters to cities around the world, from Israel to the US. The idea centers around entertaining people in natural spaces, instead of in cars, like the drive-in models that have become so popular recently.

  • Most cities in France are now eligible to move forward without social distancing for events with less than 5,000 attendees. Masks will remain mandatory at indoor venues.

  • Despite Live Nation’s fleshed out plan for a 12,000 capacity Bryan Adams show in Germany (which we reported on a couple of weeks ago), it’s been rescheduled due to local concern over increased cases. We can do everything we can to prepare, but we will ultimately fall short to external factors out of our control.

  • And in New Zealand, best laid plans are foiled too. The country, which used exceptional lockdown procedures, was able to start hosting events before any other part of the world. Despite a hopeful start, 97 new cases in August have the Entertainment Venues Association calling for more support and pleading the government not to follow other countries’ constantly fluctuating capacity caps.

  • Fears of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally becoming a COVID-19 hotbed have unfortunately become reality. Over 100 cases in 8 different states have been linked to the event where little to no masks were worn.

  • The biggest festival known to mankind happened over the weekend. It featured millions of guests, no social distancing (heck, they were practically climbing over each other to get to the front of the stage!), no masks, and definitely no hand sanitizer. The promoters let them in for free, and fed them too. You might be asking, who would do all of this during a pandemic? See for yourself here.



Reviving German CultureThough Germany’s large event ban has been extended until 2021, the live events industry is holding out hope for the results of Restart-19, the highly anticipated indoor venue experiment that took place in Germany two weeks ago. When results are released in 4 to 6 weeks, professionals and government officials will do a deep dive to determine if the proposed safety protocols are effective and scalable. Results will be a large determining factor for when large events are allowed to return to Germany. The German government met this and other reopening initiatives with whopping financial support - Restart-19 received €892,000 from the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, and the national government pledged €80M to live music. German government officials are eager and ready to provide a much-needed jump-start to its creative industries.

(Seated attendance during one of the experiments)

Rethinking the OutdoorsAs scientists continue to research the spread of the virus, multiple contact tracing studies are confirming that being outdoors is 20 times safer than being inside. Being outside allows airborne particles to dilute, which doesn’t happen as often in indoor spaces with poor ventilation. Of course, this is not to say that social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing go out the window, all of these measures work in tandem. But could it mean that we should hold outdoor and indoor events to different standards? Return to Red RocksLive music returns to Red Rocks this week with acts like Nathaniel Rateliff, Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion, and more, performing to audiences streaming at home. Cell provider Visible, the host of this week’s shows, will create unique opportunities for virtual fans to stay engaged. Audiences will have the opportunity to vote on light colors and encore songs, and even broadcast live messages. Cameras will even be strategically placed to allow fans to feel like they’re in real seats at the venue. 

And it’s not all virtual - on 9/14, Boulder-based roots band Gasoline Lollipops will play the iconic venue live with a reduced audience of 175 people.

(Ken Lane)


Back of House Guest Posts feature some of our favorite people from across the industry sharing their expertise. If you would like to be featured in a future issue or know someone who would, let us know at [email protected].

This week we sat down (virtually of course) with representatives of We Make Events - Red Alert campaign (#WeMakeEvents, #RedAlertRESTART, and #ExtendPUA). Zach Boswell is representing the initiative in Austin, and Kristyna Nedele is representing We Make Events in Denver. We also had the opportunity to speak with Brad Nelms, Director of We Make Events - North America. Brad, with the support of 9 committee members and 60 regional teams, was able to create a national event in just 16 days!

“We want to come back as safely as possible and we know that it will take time, but we NEED support” Zach explains. This same message is being preached by scores of individuals across the industry, and Zach will put his action where his mouth is when he lights the city of Austin in red tonight as part of the #RedAlertRESTART campaign.

What began in Germany in June as a response to a government extension on live event bans, and quickly followed suit in the U.K. in August, is now making its way to North America tonight, September 1st, from 9 pm–12 am local time. The initiative is a widespread effort to encourage Congress to pass the RESTART Act.  

The RESTART Act is based on small business relief funding, not unique to the entertainment industry, however, and if passed would benefit venues, bussing and trucking companies, distributors, and production businesses that make up the industry. As part of the Act, those that have lost more than 50% of their 2020 income, based on 2019 earnings, can apply for low-interest loans or grants for up to 45%.  The scope of impact the live event industry has is large - it directly impacts areas such as the travel industry, hotels, restaurants, and live event generated tax dollars. As a direct result of providing relief to venues, the benefits would extend to its employees, such as being able to keep them on salary. This Act offers an extended timeline that so many businesses need to re-open when the time is safe.

The Act is not complete, which is why We Make Events is also pushing to extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for the industry’s contractors and freelancers, who have not been allowed to work since March, putting over 12 million people out of work. Tonight’s show of solidarity is expected to see 1,300+ venues across North America, from Honolulu to Vancouver, light their exteriors in red. This will be made possible by 60 regional teams putting in many hours to produce an event on such a short timeline. Just a few weeks ago, 727 U.K. venues, buildings, and homes went red for the same initiative. The collaborative symbol hopes to underline to the public and Congress just how grave things are feeling in the live events industry.

The entire industry, from festivals to opera houses, has been affected and will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Producers, stagehands, technicians, vendors, you name it, are all out of work. #WeMakeEvents, the parent organization leading this campaign, claims that “77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers.” Most will remain without income until at least 2021. 

As the GM of ILIOS, Zach has experienced the difficulties many businesses and individuals are going through first hand. With South by Southwest traditionally kicking off the start of the season for many production professionals in Austin, the absence of the event left companies hurting. In a normal year, his typical full-time crew of 17, plus 60+ contractors would collaborate to work on this event alone. This year, the company lost nearly $600,000 in revenue when the event was canceled, contractors with plans to work the event lost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500 each, and the company was forced to return $180,000 worth of deposits. In normal years, ILIOS would have already worked SXSW and 200 additional events. Today the total stands at 25.

Aside from the nuts and bolts of the business, Zach is passionate about mentoring young individuals in the live music industry, especially in the field of lighting. He hopes that this movement will generate enough support to encourage aspiring production professionals to hold on and continue in the field. “We need professionals!” Zach emphasizes. If we want to come back in the safest way possible, we need trained producers to be supported and ready to go when that time comes.We also touched base with Kristyna Nedele, an event professional involved in the coordination side of Denver’s #RedAlertRESTART movement. She explains: "Over the last 5 months, there has been a level of uncertainty on what happens next. Places have started to open and have been able to adapt to this ‘new normal,’ but it seems that people have forgotten about the events industry, and don’t really understand how many people this is affecting. Taking a stand, having our voices heard and not forgotten is huge. I love being able to work on such an impactful project with my work family. Help us come out [on] the other side strong, healthy, and ready to ROCK!"Tonight's initiative is all about getting Congress to act, by sharing the scope of the issue and how many people it affects. “This isn't about politics, this is about people. This is a human issue and we have real problems that every single member of our live events community is at risk of. We have our back up against the wall, and if we don't do something now to create immediate action more people will suffer and that’s what we’re trying to fix,” explained Brad Nelms, Director of We Make Events - North America.

 How can you participate?

  • Use The Action Network widget on We Make Event’s website to write a letter to your representative.  A similar tool can also be found on Extend PUA’s website.

  • “Like” We Make Events on Facebook.

  • Check out #RedAlertRESTART and share your favorite venues online or in person.

  • Share one meaningful photo from an event, tint it red, and caption it: #RedAlertRESTART: the live events we love may never recover from the pandemic, we need to take action! Take 2 minutes to contact your representatives, and post a red photo of you at your favorite event, too: https://wemakeevents.org #WeMakeEvents #ExtendPUA (You can turn your photo red here)

  • Head to your local hardware store and replace your outdoor home lights with red lights.


  • September 1: The Smartest People in the Room sit down with Chris Gantry and Kerry Graham to chat everything from industry stories to marketing strategies.

  • September 2: The International Festivals & Events Association continues their COVID-19 webinar series, highlighting unique strategies for internship success.

  • September 2: The Interactive Festival Forum, a 2 day livestream event where hundreds of festival and agency professionals from around the world will congregate for panel discussions, presentations, and networking.

  • September 3: A live Q&A with veteran TMs on all things tour management. 

  • September 3: The New Event on how to replace or augment live and digital events, and how to achieve marketing communication goals in the era of COVID-19.

  • September 4: Join Midem Digital for “Spotlight on East Africa,” a 2 day event on one of the most exciting music markets in the world.

To view the full calendar go to musicminds.online


Will you take part in supporting the #RedAlertRESTART movement?

Last Week's Results:    85.7%  of BOH subscribers think the value of technology in producing live events will continue to grow.

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The Back of House newsletter was created in an effort to build a centralized hub for educational content and resources that pertain to the live side of music by those who work in it. Sharing knowledge, resources and ideas with the community is at our core. Learning from each other by highlighting best practices and trends allows us to continuously provide exceptional experiences to fans globally. Back of House is here to support the industry learner and information seeker and is delivered weekly on Tuesdays.