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what makes a major music festival sell powered

What Makes A Major Music Festival Sell (powered by TiqIQ)

The music industry is larger and more ludicrous to investors than ever before, and consumers are directly experiencing a surge in ticket pricing. Companies like TiqIQ have aggregated impressive data regarding industry trends in ticket pricing, and it’s clear that it takes more than a solid lineup to make a successful festival. The competition to break through and reach new listeners is intense, and success is based on several factors. Social media posts and email blasts can make or break the connection between artist and fan, and it can take just one particular show or song for an artist’s career to blow up. EDM has become the face of American pop music with the likes of Disclosure, Zedd, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, and Rudimental filling mainstream radio stations. It wasn’t long ago that Bonnaroo and the original Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas were the only events where premier art installations and comprehensive lineups existed-this past year dozens of festivals featured stacked lineups with huge names across various genres, and the competition is at an all-time high when convincing old and new fans where to spend their money. Securing a handful of popular artists on the lineup no longer guarantees strong sales or a successful production, as evidenced by the wildly comprehensive artist bills that so many of this year’s festivals included. 

Certain artists used 2014 as their revival year (or major album debut), including Outkast, Nas, Neutral Milk Hotel, Eminem, Queens of the Stone Age, and the Arctic Monkeys. Some of the more mature festivals, including Coachella, Austin City Limits, and Sasquatch Festival, now span two separate weekends, with Sasquatch being the only one who had completely different lineup offerings across the opposing weekends. The artists listed above were featured headliners at all or some of the following festivals: Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Boston Calling, Coachella, Firefly, Governor’s Ball, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Sasquatch Fest, and several more events across the nation. The overlap between lineups has become quite high and the decision-making process between events begins to be centered on alternate facets of the festival: the overall atmosphere, the amenities, the art installations, the sound quality, and the overall accessibility of the venue. Skrillex, Disclosure, and Calvin Harris were the most highly demanded performers of the EDM world, and all three artists tour at a pace that few can maintain, often playing multiple cities in a span of several days.  However, the value of a festival ticket is undeniable when compared to standalone show.

For example, Fitz & the Tantrums were featured at several major festivals including Lollapalooze, Austin City Limits,  and Bonnaroo, where secondary ticket prices ranged from $430 (Lollapalooza) to over $580 (ACL) after the initial presale was seized by hungry fans (data from TiqIQ). Meanwhile, the secondary market average to see Fitz & the Tantrums headline a show frequently ranged between 50-70$ depending on venue. If it’s within reach of the consumer’s budget, the festival ticket (5 to 7x the price of a single headlining ticket) usually includes more than 30 artists, and seeing only a few headliners pays for the price of the ticket. When amenities, cost of production, and sound quality is taken into account, most festivals are still a steal. 

There are intangible elements of advertising, culture, and mass appeal that give festivals like Coachella the ability to increase prices at-will because the social image of these experiences is something that fans seriously value. Meanwhile, other festivals are looking to take advantage of these price hikes to increase market share while the veteran festivals grow exponentially. Secondary market averages for Coachella Weekend 1 passes were over $1800, while the average for Weekend 2 was under $800. It is the curated image of these festival brands alone that drives prices to such high levels. Coachella had the exact same lineup both weekends, at the same venue, with the same amenities, yet the sales for the first weekend are consistently higher than the second. In contrast, most media outlets and fans report Weekend 2 as more enjoyable, more spacious, and that it featured better sound quality. Could it be possible that today’s fans are primarily concerned with having a more unique, more elaborate experience than their peers, as opposed to taking the festival experience at face value and comparing the different festival attractions to determine their true worth?

Only time will tell as to how the festival scene develops over the next decade. If consumers show the industry giants that they care more about the press surrounding the event than the actual substance and quality of the production, the overall experience is sure to suffer at any upcoming festival who displays this profit-centered mindset. Don’t worry though- if trends continue, there will always be up-and-coming festivals hard at work to reinvigorate the festival scene and provide the perfect balance between a unique experience and solid value. The consumer has the power to keep the festival scene original and authentic as long as due process is taken to research the facts!

–Andrew Cordivari