The sun is out… well, almost. The shades are on…. well, sometimes and the festival season has begun… Yes, Yes it has!!
It is the most exciting time of year for musicians everywhere. Whether you’re a big named household star or a local band who have been picked to play a slot at their local music festival, artists all around are jumping on the band wagon of music festival season but is it like it used it be?
I first experienced music festivals in 2011, when I attended my first festival, that being Reading Festival. I do now look back on it and think to myself, I sort of picked the more ‘hardcore’ of festivals to attend as my first one; probably should have tried a smaller one first but hey, it was a great experience. Plus, I have been back every year since, so it didn’t completely terrify me.
The rain that year did fall down quite heavily and I woke up one morning with water in my tent but that’s just festival life. Good old England and its rainy weather. As I write this now, it’s hammering it down with rain… quite fitting.
Anyways, acts are cramming in as many festivals as they can but to what extent are festivals as good as they used to be?
There has been a downfall in ticket sales, many festivals don’t sell out now until a few weeks prior, including Reading Festival which last year saw tickets still on sale a few weeks beforehand. Also, a lot of festivals don’t see as many regulars returning anymore. Not sure if that is just me and people I know but gone are the days of festival junkies I think.
Is this all down to the lack of headline acts available?
Harvey Goldsmith recently confirmed this prediction on music week by stating:
‘Music festivals have probably run their course’
A part of me inside is going ‘Noooooo…. don’t say that’ but I must admit I did see this coming.
There just doesn’t seem to be as big of a hype anymore. One theory of mine is this new age of mixed genre gigs. Reading always used to be a rock festival, Glastonbury an indie festival and V Festival a Pop festival… etc etc… and now Kanye West has received a headline slot at Glastonbury and Mumford and Sons are headlining Reading….
Although it is great for some new attendees to be able to see a mixture of acts, I really don’t think it has bode well for the regular followers festivals use to get, who go intentionally to be able to see the rock/pop/indie acts they love.
I know the festival owners intentions are good… or more, in the eyes of money… they want to gain a wider audience; attract those fans they couldn’t before. However, what they have seemed to have forgotten about is those loyal audiences and attendees that keep coming back each year and it is destroying the festival scene.
Harvey Goldsmith also went on to say this about festivals:
“There’s too many of them and there are not enough big acts to headline them”
“That is a big, big problem in our industry. And we are not producing a new generation of these kind of acts – the likes of The Rolling Stones, Muse, even Arctic Monkeys – that can headline”
I completely agree with him. We aren’t. There are great acts but then there are headline acts and the industry is certainly lacking in them. I wouldn’t have put Mumford and Sons as headline quality, especially not for Reading Festival.
It is a tricky situation and a tactic from the festivals that seems to have gone pear-shaped.
The industry needs to pick up speed in developing and finding those acts that can ‘headline’.
It’s a waiting game and one I’m looking forward to experiencing…