“When American music festivals got their start five decades ago, fans paid $6 for their fill of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll,” writes CBS News.
All of us in the electronic music scene are too acutely aware that that is not the case anymore. This year’s EDC Las Vegas GA ticket approached $400 and Ultra Music Festival was actually forced to bring their price down amidst massive outrage. Bigger and better (questionable) acts have begun to populate music festivals nationwide and the fact of the matter is that none of that could have happened without the influence of big money.
Coachella, for instance, brought in a whopping $84 million this year, with a crowd of half a million attendees over the two weekends. It is the highest grossing music festival in the world.
Whether the rise in popularity of festivals coinciding with the decline of physical album sales is coincidence or not, the acts are happy for the respite.
Artists are also trying to counter the 67 percent decline in album sales since 2000. That’s why the Cold War Kids played festivals before they even had an album 10 years ago.
Streaming is king, to the point where these festivals actually live stream the artists’ performances.
Charles Attal, co-founder of C3 Presents – which produces such massive festivals as Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, and Counterpoint – admits that he is worried about the longevity of the “festival fever,” as he puts it.
“I mean, the attention span of kids is, you know, it’s a little bit shorter now,” Attal said. “We have to just keep up with it, and hopefully they stay interested.”
However, the other co-founder, Charlie Jones, accurately points out, “Live music is the oldest form of expression and entertainment on the planet.” Since the dawn of man, people have stood around in circles chanting and beating on drums.
These days, the circle has just gotten wider. And more expensive.