Have We Hit Peak Festival? Do You Enjoy Being Treated Like a Pig in Muck?
Everybody loves a festival, huge lineups, great atmosphere, similarly minded people, leading to more often than not, a great few days.
But what happens when people grow tired of the same acts, the increasing prices and having to spend time with the equivalent of the population of a small city? Have we hit peak festival?
Courtesy of Insomniac
The majority of people at a dance music festival such as Ultra Music Festival, tend to go for the social aspect and to hear that one song, from that one DJ they heard on the radio. And the number of festivals continues to increase but that means each festival is now fighting for a slice of the same pie, more competitors fighting for the same audience.
Festivals are springing up, quicker than the fans are being born, Ali Hedrick of Billions, a major booking agency in the US, said that in 2014, North America alone had 847 festivals, ranging from the top end such as Coachella to much smaller festivals. But even the smaller festivals can cost hundreds of thousand of pounds to create, and year by year they're getting more expensive to set up and host.
How many of these festivals can actually expect to make a profit? Take for instance the 2014 TomorrowWorld debacle, leaving aside for the moment the large number of fans left abandoned in horrific weather conditions, its parent company SFX, plummeted into bankruptcy. There were obviously more factors involved in their bankruptcy than simply the collapse of the festival, but TomorrowWorld still left a huge amount of the estimated 160,000 plus attendees devastated by a weekend of promised turned sour.
For every fan that said they wouldn't let it put them off going to future festivals, there will have been another who will have sworn off festivals for life. And that begs the question, are festivals even that enjoyable anymore?
How many people can say they actually go for the music? Many are solely there for the singular reason that drugs are easier to find than at any nightclub, so you've got the chance to get absolutely off your face for three days, and then report to reality at the tail end of the festival. So what's the point?
With festival prices increasing year after year, ask yourself, are the quality of festivals improving? Almost certainly not. Festivals have simply introduced tiered pricing, allowing 'have's' the opportunity of enjoying home comforts while the 'have not's' (aka your average music lover) are left literally wallowing in the mud, like the pigs the festival promoters consider them to be.
"Geo Glamping" debuting at Firefly Music Festival this summer
With DJ's being on the road almost 365 days a year, and festivals taking place for the full 12 months, it can only be expected that the quality of the performance will suffer. Can you really blame a DJ if they are pre-planning their entire set? With many DJ's simply turning up, plugging in their USB and jumping up and down, surely fans will become disenchanted listening to an almost identical set to the one they've heard online weeks before, from the comfort of their own home.
The festival industry has always been based on a popularity contest, the headliners sell the most tickets, ask for the most appearance fee and the rest fight for what's left. But when you consider that the headliner might have only exploded in popularity within the last year, how can they justify charging exorbitant fees, when the headliner can barely fill a two hour slot with their own music.
It could be argued that festival promoters consider the average music fan a slave to the music. Promoters know that fans will pay any asking price, will put up with almost any form of treatment and still go home at the end of the festival telling everyone how great a time they had. The reason for this stubborn blind loyalty? The harsh truth that perhaps, the near thousand pounds they spent on outfits, alcohol, accommodation, food and everything else that goes into the “festival experience”, might not have been worth the money. Is quite simply a truth too far.
Musical tastes change as well, the popularity of 'EDM' won't last forever, a similar situation occurred in the UK during the 'Million Pound Millenium DJ' era. Many of the world's top DJ's including Pete Tong and Carl Cox were allegedly being paid as much as £300,000 pounds for a two hour set, and with the DJ scheduled to play in four different locations on the same night, something had to give.
It did, the over priced tickets didn't sell, promoters cancelled club nights rather than lose millions of pounds and the industry took a sledgehammer to the ribs, which it spent years recovering from. It'd be foolish not to see similarities with the previous 'Million Pound Millennium DJ era' and the current 'Billion Dollar US EDM Era'.
Over inflated ticket prices, DJ's charging sky high fees, whilst 'phoning in' their sets and fans increasing resentment of being treated like cash cows, can only lead to one conclusion. In the US, something will have to give.
SFX has already fallen, will there be a domino effect? Is that the final straw to break the camel's back?
Until next week The Prophet has spoken.