Are Music Festivals in trouble? (Full Version)

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squeezyrider -> Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 10:00:43 AM)

As we speak I could go online and buy tickets for Leeds / Reading, V Festival, Isle of Wight, Download, Hop Farm or Latitude.

For the big festivals Leeds/Reading for example I'm used to having to buy my tickets on the day they come out.

And this is a year when there's no Glastonbury.

Now I know that there's a recession on but I'm wondering if there are bigger problems for the festival scene.

Taking Leeds for example this years headliners are Foo Fighters, The Cure and Kasabian. two of those were last year's IOW headliners.

V Festival has The Stone Roses and The Killers, IOW has Pearl Jam, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.

I think what I'm getting at is that if you've been going to festivals for the last ten years or so then you will have seen all the headliners probably more than once and if you're young and just starting out at festivals do you really want to see all these old blokes?

Looking at the main stages for all the festivals it's just a roll call of the same old faces. It just doesn't seem likely that the next big thing is going to come along any time soon. Who can you name that's new who should be headlining festivals in the future? The record industry isn't giving anyone chance to build a following it seems to me one or two albums and you're done.

Or is it just me?  




superdan -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 10:13:14 AM)

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is. There'll still be plenty of interesting stuff further down the bill for most festivals though, I would have thought.




squeezyrider -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 11:02:54 AM)

As you say there's plenty of interesting new stuff going on further down the bill and off the main stage but I haven't seen an act graduate from the small to the big stage quite quickly for years. Probably since Arctic Monkeys first came along. I think the big festivals are running out of bands to sell.  




Spaldron -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 12:49:22 PM)

Sonisphere got cancelled so I'd say yes to an extent. The recession has definitely had an impact.




hubu_phonk -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 12:59:27 PM)

I have a few buds who made their own mini festivals, so maybe a return to grass roots is the future. you won't see the big names, but all you need is good (local ) talent, craic and buckfast to keep it lively [:D]




Spaldron -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 1:50:17 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: hubu_phonk

I have a few buds who made their own mini festivals, so maybe a return to grass roots is the future. you won't see the big names, but all you need is good (local ) talent, craic and buckfast to keep it lively [:D]


Same here! A friend of mine ran a festival over the weekend for underground Edinburgh bands. My band were supposed to play but our singer bailed so that was fucked. [:(]




Rhubarb -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 3:26:22 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment, and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.




jonson -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 3:32:03 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: hubu_phonk

I have a few buds who made their own mini festivals, so maybe a return to grass roots is the future. you won't see the big names, but all you need is good (local ) talent, craic and buckfast to keep it lively [:D]


I think this is so true. Just 5 miles up the road from me is Glastonbudget. What started out years ago as a few hundred people now is tens of thousands. OK, so U2 are hardly going to play there, but for a lot of poeple (and I count myself as one of them) the festivals are more part of a sense of being with loads of like minded people, having a smoke and a beer and a laugh, and less to do with the bands.
Just off the top of my head we have Strawberry Fields in August, Glastongudget in 2 weeks, Fristock in July - and all of these are less than 15 minutes drive from my house.
I can hear 2 of them from my garden [:D] so why the fuck would I queue at the Reading festival for a shit and find it piled higher than the toilet seat? [:D]




horribleives -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 4:44:34 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment,
and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.


I disagree - check out the line-ups for the always excellent Primavera festival in Barcelona, or Benicassim down the road. While they feature an eclectic range of music and a healthy electronic/dance element, they are both predominantly made up of Rock/Alternative/Whatever-type bands covering everything from (excuse my simplistic descriptions) noisy metal to twee indie and god knows what inbetween. I'd say Rock/Alternative/Whatever is in a remarkbaly innovative and brilliant phase at the minute, as it always is of you look beyond the mainstream and the increasingly conservative english festivals.
For example, at last year's Primavera I saw:

Interpol
Grinderman
PJ Harvey
Flaming Lips
Deerhunter
Battles
Fleet Foxes
Mogwai
Shellac
Pulp
Animal Collective
The National
DJ Shadow
Warpaint
Suuns
PIL
Salem
Sufjan Stevens
Caribou
Factory Floor
The Walkmen
Autolux
Field Music
John Spencer
Mercury Rev

...and many more, all for a lot less than the price of a Leeds/Reading ticket. What I'm saying is: music's in great health if you make an effort to look for it. And if you want to go to a good festival - jump on a plane.




Rhubarb -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 6:49:10 PM)

Alot of the artists i'd want to see on there are not young and cutting edge bands though. Warpaint are an exception.




Olaf -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (23/5/2012 7:19:43 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment
, and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.


It really really isn't. Unless you count large commercial success as the yardstick, in which case it would be more accurate to say that pop rock/alternative/etc is going through a bad phase (and who really cares about that?). American alternative music in particular in the healthiest state it's been in ages, once it got over the whole grunge thing - Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Battles, Beach House, Mastodon, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, MGMT, Warpaint, Vampire Weekend etc are only some of the more obvious ones who've only been active in the last decade, and none of them really sound like each other. Actually looking for bands like these is - and always has been, to be fair - the only way to find the really good stuff, so the lack of popular 'alternative' music (read: guitar bands) isn't really indicative of anything.

[insert something witty about Pitchfork here]




tommyjarvis -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 12:55:27 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Olaf


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment
, and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.


It really really isn't. Unless you count large commercial success as the yardstick, in which case it would be more accurate to say that pop rock/alternative/etc is going through a bad phase (and who really cares about that?). American alternative music in particular in the healthiest state it's been in ages, once it got over the whole grunge thing - Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Battles, Beach House, Mastodon, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, MGMT, Warpaint, Vampire Weekend etc are only some of the more obvious ones who've only been active in the last decade, and none of them really sound like each other. Actually looking for bands like these is - and always has been, to be fair - the only way to find the really good stuff, so the lack of popular 'alternative' music (read: guitar bands) isn't really indicative of anything.

[insert something witty about Pitchfork here]


It was better back in the 90s when the great rock/alternative bands (Britpop, grunge, alt-rock etc) were huge bands that were getting on the radio and filling stadiums though. Not everyone has time to listen to a million obscure bands on the internet on the off chance that a couple are any good. There's a distinct lack of interesting new bands that hit sufficient popularity to headline major festivals.




horribleives -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 6:40:21 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb

Alot of the artists i'd want to see on there are not young and cutting edge bands though. Warpaint are an exception.


True not all of those are young AND cutting edge (though I'd say 7 or 8 of them are) but a band doesn't have to be young to be 'cutting edge' - Battles are well into their 30s and 40s and are one of the most modern bands on the face of the planet. And also at that particular festival I saw a load of newer bands I'd either never heard if or knew little about (such as The Album Leaf, Japandroids, Male Bonding, Yuck) so it certainly wasn't just a case of rolling out the established oldies.
And I don't buy tommyjarvis's point either. Surely if you're into and love music you want to discover new bands, you want to hear a track by someone you've never heard of and rush out and buy everything they've recorded? I don't see that as a chore. And you might not see any of the bands Olaf listed plugging their new single on The X Factor but none of them are remotely obscure.
Anyway, all this talk of The Best Festival In Europe has just reminded me that I'm not going this year so I'm off for a little cry.




horribleives -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 7:01:57 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: tommyjarvis


quote:

ORIGINAL: Olaf


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment
, and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.


It really really isn't. Unless you count large commercial success as the yardstick, in which case it would be more accurate to say that pop rock/alternative/etc is going through a bad phase (and who really cares about that?). American alternative music in particular in the healthiest state it's been in ages, once it got over the whole grunge thing - Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Battles, Beach House, Mastodon, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, MGMT, Warpaint, Vampire Weekend etc are only some of the more obvious ones who've only been active in the last decade, and none of them really sound like each other. Actually looking for bands like these is - and always has been, to be fair - the only way to find the really good stuff, so the lack of popular 'alternative' music (read: guitar bands) isn't really indicative of anything.

[insert something witty about Pitchfork here]


It was better back in the 90s when the great rock/alternative bands (Britpop, grunge, alt-rock etc) were huge bands that were getting on the radio and filling stadiums though. Not everyone has time to listen to a million obscure bands on the internet on the off chance that a couple are any good. There's a distinct lack of interesting new bands that hit sufficient popularity to headline major festivals.


But has there ever been a time when 'new' bands have regularly headlined major festivals? It tends to be acts who've been around for years or are on at least their second or third album. The Strokes at Leeds in 2002 was one notable exception, though it wasn't a great show and, despite the safety concerns, they would've gone down ten times better in one of the tents. Not least because it pissed down for most of the gig.




squeezyrider -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 7:53:36 AM)

There's some amazing music out there at the moment but as you say probably not in the mainstream rock or indie categories. But I think the problem is that people in general I think buy their ticket for a festival based on the headliners. And as far as headlining bands are concerned they've been recycling them for the last 5 years and I think will continue to do so. All the while the big festivals have got increasingly bigger to the point where Michael Eavis has voiced his concern about how even Glastonbury must evolve if it's going to survive.  




jonson -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 8:19:12 AM)

I think also there's such a cross-over of music at festivals now. Going back to the early-90's (in my day [:D]) 1992 was a good year for me. Nirvana and The Wonder Stuff healding Friday and Saturday........then Public Enemy. I liked Public Enemy don't get me wrong, but it was quite a crossover to have a HipHop band at an "indie" music festival. Personally I like a good mix of music genres (plus the amount of drugs that were for sale on the Sunday compared to Saturday and Friday was immense [:D])
I have always hated cliques in music, but I think it isolated a certain section of the public. It's far more diverse now, which again is a good thing, but probably doesn't bode well for the punter. One look at the Donington Monsters of Rock's demise tells you that (once a shining light in rock music, spandex and big hair) It used to be 1 good day out, 110,000 poeple, 5 or 6 massive bands, but they now stretch it out over 3 days, with 5 tents and 100 bands. Not so sure it's a good thing overall to be honest. Overload might be more appropriate than Download.
Too many festivals, too many genres of music, all thrown together with no identity and being organised by execs only interested in making money.




squeezyrider -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 8:30:59 AM)

In order to sell tickets to the sheer number of people they're now aiming for they have to go for this one size fits all festival approach. V is the worst for it. I'm going to the Isle of Wight Festival this year. I couldn't afford it but won some tickets. This is the main stage Saturday Line Up.

Pearl Jam
Biffy Clyro
Tinie Tempah
Jessie J
Madness
Labrinth
Big Country

Now is that fucked up or what.





Spaldron -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 11:27:01 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: horribleives

But has there ever been a time when 'new' bands have regularly headlined major festivals? It tends to be acts who've been around for years or are on at least their second or third album. The Strokes at Leeds in 2002 was one notable exception,


Arctic Monkeys headlined Glastonbury after only two albums. I saw it on tv and they were utter gash.




Olaf -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 1:47:26 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: tommyjarvis


quote:

ORIGINAL: Olaf


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment
, and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.


It really really isn't. Unless you count large commercial success as the yardstick, in which case it would be more accurate to say that pop rock/alternative/etc is going through a bad phase (and who really cares about that?). American alternative music in particular in the healthiest state it's been in ages, once it got over the whole grunge thing - Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Battles, Beach House, Mastodon, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, MGMT, Warpaint, Vampire Weekend etc are only some of the more obvious ones who've only been active in the last decade, and none of them really sound like each other. Actually looking for bands like these is - and always has been, to be fair - the only way to find the really good stuff, so the lack of popular 'alternative' music (read: guitar bands) isn't really indicative of anything.

[insert something witty about Pitchfork here]


It was better back in the 90s when the great rock/alternative bands (Britpop, grunge, alt-rock etc) were huge bands that were getting on the radio and filling stadiums though. Not everyone has time to listen to a million obscure bands on the internet on the off chance that a couple are any good. There's a distinct lack of interesting new bands that hit sufficient popularity to headline major festivals.


Only about 1% of all the great alternative bands of the 1990s were big and successful though - I love Blur/Pulp/90s Oasis but they represent only a tiny fraction of what constituted good alternative music in that decade. It also isn't harder to find more 'underground' stuff nowadays - though I wouldn't consider any of the bands I named above to be obscure in any way tbh - because the internet makes it easier to find stuff you like that might get overlooked a bit otherwise. (an example of this that comes to mind is Disco Inferno, who died on their arse in the 90s due to a lack of coverage but have been able to build up a fairly extensive cult following because of the internet. Same goes for all those wonderful 'overlooked albums of the __s' lists.) And as ives points out, why is looking for music you like a chore? It's not like you have to trawl the entire internet for hours to find a single band you like - checking maybe three or four websites regularly should usually be enough.




tommyjarvis -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (24/5/2012 11:04:31 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Olaf

Only about 1% of all the great alternative bands of the 1990s were big and successful though - I love Blur/Pulp/90s Oasis but they represent only a tiny fraction of what constituted good alternative music in that decade. It also isn't harder to find more 'underground' stuff nowadays - though I wouldn't consider any of the bands I named above to be obscure in any way tbh - because the internet makes it easier to find stuff you like that might get overlooked a bit otherwise. (an example of this that comes to mind is Disco Inferno, who died on their arse in the 90s due to a lack of coverage but have been able to build up a fairly extensive cult following because of the internet. Same goes for all those wonderful 'overlooked albums of the __s' lists.) And as ives points out, why is looking for music you like a chore? It's not like you have to trawl the entire internet for hours to find a single band you like - checking maybe three or four websites regularly should usually be enough.


We're on about festivals here though - these are at their best when you have a great band playing the main stage and having thousands of people singing along. The joy of having Pulp at the festivals last year was that they could play a song like Common People and have the whole crowd, from "serious" music fans to casual listeners, in ecstacy. It's harder to get that with up-and-coming bands because the good ones don't get so much exposure (there are exceptions, but not many).

As regards looking for music, it's not so much that it's a chore as the fact that we don't all have time/money to trawl around for ages. A few years ago you could find great music simply by listening to mainstream radio stations during the day; that barely ever happens now.




TwistedAnimator -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (25/5/2012 10:50:01 AM)

The problem with festivals is justifying the ticket cost, let alone the camping cost.
Then you've got the extortionate cost of food.

I think it's a backlash against the greed of the organisers because the festival experience just isn't what it was.

Went to DOWNLOAD a few years back and it was amazing, if expensive.
Went 2 years later and it was miserable. They'd sold ticket to waaay too many people and that impacted on the camp site, food and facilities as well as trying to see the bands.
Stopped going after that :(




sharkboy -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (25/5/2012 11:02:17 AM)

It's at least partly due to an over-saturation of festivals with simply not enough acts that can draw the crowds to go round them all.  For example, over the last few years in Belfast, a few "boutique-style" arts festivals have become well established.  Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and the Open House Festival have featured an incredibly eclectic line-up of artists in a number of city-centre venues, from Modest Mouse to Echo & The Bunnymen, from Warpaint to The Low Anthem.  But this year, Open House has had to accept that the headlining acts that they would hope to attract are already booked up over so many similar festivals across the UK and wider, so they've had to change their approach and instead of concentrate on a specific 2-week period, they've decided to have a "year-long festival" instead, with acts appearing as and when they are available.  We still get the gigs, but we do miss out on the other attractions that the festival provided.  Likewise the CQAF still runs for 2 weeks, but this year there was a definite drop in the calibre of musical artists they attracted.  Sure, they still had their headliners but the venues got smaller and there was a distinct drop in the quality of the lower-lineup acts.

Another possible factor with these particular festivals is that they both rely heavily on funding from the public sector, and as usual arts funding is one of the first victims of any cuts made.  I'm sure that some of the smaller boutique festivals elsewhere in the UK are facing similar problems.




jonson -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (25/5/2012 2:28:38 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Spaldron

Yeah that's where they get you, once you're in (and presuming you didn't manage to sneak booze/water/food past security) then expect to pay at least 100 over the two or three days you're stuck there.



100? Yeah, I suppose. 3 bottles of Jack and a packet of crisps. [:D]




Chief Wiggum -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (25/5/2012 3:46:58 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: TwistedAnimator

Then you've got the extortionate cost of food.



Just an off topic FYI there is a reason that festival food is so expensive, it's not just the fact that you've got a captive audience

For a pitch at a large music festival you have a site fee (last time I worked, 2009 it was around 4500 for one pitch in the main arena at Leeds) you then have to consider that with an arena like leeds (where the crowd are ejected after the last band) you get approximately 12 hours of trading per day, plus a 4 hour window on the first night. (so 40 hours of trading in total)

So with that alone you have to take an average of 112 per hour

Then you've got the cost of staff - which for us was 10 staff at 7/hour for the trading period, so that brings it up to 182.

then you've got the tickets for staff, you get 3 free tickets per stall so that's 7 tickets at retail price (lets say 150 each ) - which works out as 26 per hour of trading - bringing the average cost per hour of trading up to 208

You then have your energy costs, fuel to get there and back, say 3 tanks of fuel for each vehicle (we had two, one with the marquee and dry store, the other with a chiller trailer) so that's another 600 (at least) which brings it up to 223 per hour.

cost of Electricity is about 1500 for a supply - 260/hour

Then gas to cook on, say 250 for the weekend - 266/hour

Then you've got to set up and pack down the stall - say 8 hours of labour per person at 7 for ten staff - 280 per hour

You then have your raw materials - I'm going to generalise here but we spent at least 1500 on our ingredients for a typical weekend, so we'll use that lower figure, as we try to keep costs down as much as possible - 317/hour

plus factoring in the prep time of the raw ingredients - about 24 hours/person over the weekend (at the same rate as above) which then brings the total to 359 that you have to take each hour just to break even.


Now factor in that there's competition in the mix, normally about 1 caterer per 1000 punters, now lets take off a large percentage that brought their own food say around 30% (probably more at leeds, what with it's shuttle buses to Tescos) leaving you with 700 punters that will buy food at the festival site. say they average 1.5 meals a day in the arena (some will have one meal a day, some will have 2) that gives you an average of 84 customers per hour

which means that for every customer you have to take at least 4.27 just to cover your costs for the weekend.

now when you start to factor in the costs that aren't attributable to the weekend itself - depreciation of vehicles and equipment, training staff, tax, national insurance contributions etc you can start to see why food at festivals costs so much


and please don't take this the wrong way, it's not a "Fuck you! Stop complaining", but a this is why food costs so much on site at festivals




Jackie Boy -> RE: Are Music Festivals in trouble? (27/5/2012 7:04:45 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: horribleives

quote:

ORIGINAL: tommyjarvis


quote:

ORIGINAL: Olaf


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rhubarb


quote:

ORIGINAL: superdan

I think it just goes to show how stagnant modern popular music is.



I think its more that Rock/Alternative/Whatever is going through a shockingly bad phase at the moment
, and those are traditionally the artists that headline these things, that coupled with the sheer overkill number of festivals there are these days.


It really really isn't. Unless you count large commercial success as the yardstick, in which case it would be more accurate to say that pop rock/alternative/etc is going through a bad phase (and who really cares about that?). American alternative music in particular in the healthiest state it's been in ages, once it got over the whole grunge thing - Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Battles, Beach House, Mastodon, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, MGMT, Warpaint, Vampire Weekend etc are only some of the more obvious ones who've only been active in the last decade, and none of them really sound like each other. Actually looking for bands like these is - and always has been, to be fair - the only way to find the really good stuff, so the lack of popular 'alternative' music (read: guitar bands) isn't really indicative of anything.

[insert something witty about Pitchfork here]


It was better back in the 90s when the great rock/alternative bands (Britpop, grunge, alt-rock etc) were huge bands that were getting on the radio and filling stadiums though. Not everyone has time to listen to a million obscure bands on the internet on the off chance that a couple are any good. There's a distinct lack of interesting new bands that hit sufficient popularity to headline major festivals.


But has there ever been a time when 'new' bands have regularly headlined major festivals? It tends to be acts who've been around for years or are on at least their second or third album. The Strokes at Leeds in 2002 was one notable exception, though it wasn't a great show and, despite the safety concerns, they would've gone down ten times better in one of the tents. Not least because it pissed down for most of the gig.

Not that i am aware of anyway. Case in point. This year Hard Rock Calling have Soundgarden, Springsteen & Paul Simon headlining the event. The way i see it, the headliners are used to draw in the masses, & the new bands are used to make up the bill.




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