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2021 ended with a bang for the big music scene.
Everyone was escaping the lockdown and they wanted to party to celebrate and party like it was 1999. Music festivals were booming in response.
2022 is simply not delivering the same rush of blood to the festival circuit.
So, what’s going on and what’s the lowdown for musicians?
There are some good reasons that fewer people are attending big festivals and they include:
It was clear by the spring of 2022 that this wasn’t going to be a great year for festivals and that they might be in a similar situation as to the mid-2010s (when the Fyre Festival notoriously failed and its organizer was criminally charged for its failure).
This has seen a large number of shows that were announced being canceled and even the festivals that have gone ahead are hurting for it. Fencing, staging, fuel, etc. are all more expensive thanks to inflation.
Promoters say that this means an event is roughly a third more expensive to host than it was a year ago!
But ticket sales often took place without this rise being accounted for, in short, many festivals will lose money and may not be viable in the future.
It seems likely that this year has seen the end of multi-genre spanning festivals. They’ve been most at risk of failing and there’s a clear indication of audiences responding better to more focused single genre events.
More focus needs to be put on selling high-end VIP experiences, which surprisingly saw growth in the otherwise shrinking ticket market. As audiences grow up, they’re willing to pay for comfort such as luxury tents and air-conditioning.
For artists, it also means being more choosy about which festivals to lend their names to.
Artists make most of their money in the 202Xs by touring and each event must more than pay for itself to be worthwhile.
Artists who make poor choices regarding festivals to participate in risk tarnishing their brand and crowd-pulling power in the longer term.
The festival market is not dead, but 2022 sees it on life support. We think there will always be demand for big live shows featuring many acts, but that market is likely to be smaller and more focused in the future.
Artists are going to keep close tabs on developments in the festival scene to be able to maximize their own touring revenue.
The first time Nicholas went to a live gig, 31 years ago, it turned out to be an Iron Maiden secret gig and he became hooked on the music scene. He was one of the founding writers for Astro Zombie a heavy metal and new world techno-inspired zine and his interview with Rob Caggiano of Anthrax brought in over 300,000 readers. He’s based out of Southeast Asia now, but his love of music is as strong and diverse as ever.