Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Festivals Score Big While Concert Attendance Down

The concert business is in real trouble. Industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz wrote  in his newsletter yesterday that uber-promoter LiveNation has cancelled 200 shows this summer because of poor advanced ticket sales.

We're in a recession, people don't have the money, they're not interested in many new acts and everyone's seen all the classic acts before. There's no incentive to pay an inflated ticket price laced with service charges, extra parking fees and outrageous beverage and swag prices.

But there's one area of the business that's hitting  it out of the park in terms of attendance and that's the festivals. Both Bonnaroo and Coachella were major hits this year despite higher prices and I think there's a major factor involved.

Festivals match the new listening habits.

Music fans no longer listen to an entire album, they listen to singles. It's Short Attention Span Theater for music, which is the perfect mentality for a festival attendee. There are usually multiple stages, so if you don't like one act, go find another that suits you. Pretty soon another act will be on to check out anyway.

Of course, a festival is a big band for the buck as well. Multiple headliners over several days with a lot of up and comers? For many, it's heaven. Of course, the conditions aren't as civilized as a concert at a modern venue, but for many, the communal nature of the event is just icing on the cake.

Europe already has many more festivals than the US, but expect that to even out over the next few years. For the concert industry, this may be on the only growth area available.

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