Global entertainment company Live Nation has acquired a controlling interest in Hong Kong’s Clockenflap festival, the company has announced.

See also: Exclusive: Clockenflap co-founders assert ‘autonomy’ after Live Nation acquisition, eye Asian expansion

Photo: Chris Lusher.

The acquisition of Clockenflap – which includes the annual festival and also Clockenflap Presents, its live touring arm – does not include the ticket platform Ticketflap, which will retain its independence. Wednesday’s announcement followed the first ever sold-out Clockenflap this month after a years-long hiatus.

Founded by Jay Forster, Mike Hill and Justin Sweeting in 2008, Clockenflap soon expanded from its origins at Cyberport to accommodate tens of thousands of festivalgoers at West Kowloon Cultural District, where it cemented its status as Hong Kong’s premier arts and music event.

The festival moved to Central Harbourfront in 2016 to make way for the development of West Kowloon, but was cancelled in November 2019 – a week before it was scheduled to begin – amid ongoing protests in Hong Kong. It remained off the city’s calendar – along with other live music events – because of Covid-19 restrictions, emerging in early March just days after Hong Kong’s universal mask mandate, the last of the city’s major social distancing restrictions, was lifted.

In an exclusive interview with HKFP ahead of the acquisition announcement, co-founders Hill and Sweeting asserted their continued autonomy over Clockenflap despite Live Nation’s majority stake, saying that that the deal would allow for expansion in the city and across Asia. Hill said there was no requirement that Live Nation’s controversial Ticketmaster platform would be used in Hong Kong.

People enjoying an installation at Clockenflap 2023. Photo: Clockenflap.
People enjoying an installation at Clockenflap 2023. Photo: Clockenflap.

The pair also sought to allay concerns over crowd safety linked to Live Nation events. Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary Live Nation Worldwide have been connected to about 200 deaths and at least 750 injuries since 2006, the Houston Chronicle reported in November 2021 after the Astroworld festival in the US city ended in tragedy, with 10 fatalities.

Hill and Sweeting told HKFP that Clockenflap was on the “forefront” of safety, with members of the team having formally studied crowd science. “It’s meticulously, carefully planned,” Hill said.

In the announcement release, Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, said: “Partnering with Clockenflap further demonstrates that Live Nation is committed to bringing world-class festivals and live entertainment experiences to our Hong Kong fans… through Live Nation’s global network we will enhance and grow the Clockenflap brand and deliver new and exciting live opportunities to the region.”

clockenflap festival 2023
Phoenix at Clockenflap Festival 2023. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Live Nation has brought artists such as K-pop stars Blackpink and BTS to Hong Kong, as well as dance music festival series, Creamfields, which will return to Central Harbourfront in early April, with Calvin Harris, Tiesto and The Chainsmokers headlining.

Clockenflap will return for a second 2023 edition in December, with ticketing and lineup details yet to be announced. Sweeting, the festival’s music director, said it would retain its mix of international and local acts, with a diverse balance of Western and Asian acts.

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Mercedes is a Hong Kong-based British journalist with an interest in environmental and social issues. She has written for the Guardian and the BBC and previously worked at the South China Morning Post.