Coming to a field near you – music festivals continue to sprout up, command larger audiences or sell-out within minutes. So what's the appeal?
Music festivals are a win-win for musicians, fans and the industry in general. For musicians, digital downloads have driven down the value of recorded music, so they are looking to live concerts and merchandise as new revenue streams; fans love to get ‘close’ to and see their idols in action; while new acts are able to appeal to broader audiences looking for new sounds and songs in a holistic experience. From long-drops to glamping, festivals are more and more the epitome of the British summer.
According to Steve Jenner from the Festival Awards (quoted in a BBC article), in 2004, there were about 100 events classed as music festivals compared to more than 700 in 2013 in the United Kingdom.
Says Alan Ridgeway, Live Nation's CEO for international operations: "Festivals are one of the big growth areas of our business." In Britain, one of the world’s largest festival markets, this equates to $1.36 billion per annum, while in the US, revenues have nearly doubled over the last decade to $4.6 billion in 2012.
Music festivals are now major business for festival organizers, bands and labels, and for both new and older acts. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton performed on the main stage at Glastonbury recently, Rogers in 2013 and Parton in 2014, to crowds of adoring fans – and in Parton’s case, the largest of the weekend with over 100,000 turning out on the Sunday afternoon.
So what is the appeal? Music fans have acquired a taste for live music festivals where they can escape the ‘real world’ for a long weekend or longer in some cases. They crave new and old acts, and often come prepared with their gig guide marked, fancy dress, stacks of alcohol and pop-up (disposable) tent.
In a world where any one can watch, stream and share online, the ubiquitous wrist band becomes a badge of honour – proof that they have ‘roughed it’ at least for a weekend, while further proof is shared via narcissistic selfies on Facebook, saying ‘I was here’