Eurovision organisers change rules to ensure competition will go ahead in 2021 and for 'many years to come'

'The lessons learned from the spring of 2020 are that we need to plan for a global crisis,' shared new Executive Supervisor, Martin Österdahl.

The empty Eurovision studio set featuring beams of light surrounding a globe

With the necessary cancellation of Eurovision 2020 breaking the hearts of fans worldwide, Eurovision organisers have made a change to the rules which they believe will secure not just the 2021 event, but many others for years to come.

Organisers shared that, “We must be able to be more flexible and to make changes even to the format itself and how we organise the event in these challenging times.”

Martin Österdahl, new Executive Supervisor of Eurovision, stated, “As organisers of the world’s largest live music event we are determined and united in our mission; to bring back a Contest, a new winner and a handover to a new Host Broadcaster. These elements are in our DNA and part of our legacy.”

The main rule change is to lift the existing ban on backing vocals from backing tracks on a one-year trial basis with the possibility of it being extended. Österdahl continued, “In previous years, all vocals at the Contest had to be performed live on stage by the lead singer and by any optional backing singers, whether on or off camera.

“Whilst the lead vocalist, and any accompanying vocal support (lead dubs) must still perform live on stage, we are now giving broadcasters the option to include backing vocals on the musical backing track used in the performance by all delegations.”

The reasoning behind this change is to offer the possibility of smaller delegations travelling to the event, which will also play a hand in reducing costs. Technical burdens for host broadcasters will also be lessened and allow them to try out new creative ideas.

Organisers also reason it will affect performers for the better, as Österdahl described, “We believe allowing backing vocals to be pre-recorded increases the creative potential and diversity of acts and facilitates modernisation of the Eurovision Song Contest. It also allows songwriters and producers to present their work as close as possible to their original composition.”

And while it is the organisers’ preference “that we are able to come back with a contest as we know and love it, in a packed arena with fans and delegations,” plans are in place for a modified format in case COVID-19 returns.

The decisions were made by the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, the Contest’s governing board and the EBU Television Committee.

The 2021 competition is planned to take place in Rotterdam on 18, 20 and 22 May.

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