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Can a Free to Attend Music Festival Ever be Viable.

Andy Robertson

Anyone who is a regular festivalgoer knows only too well how expensive it can be to attend a music festival. There are numerous free to attend festivals globally every year but they are generally focused in local communities being funded by generous sponsors. Can the ‘free’ concept ever transition to a large-scale music festival? 

With financial backing from local authorities and government funded Arts Councils there are plenty of free to attend festivals focused on the Arts attracting hundreds of thousands of victors every year. Can alternative funding ever be a substitute for ticket sales revenues?

Music festivals are mostly run and organised by commercial entities and when it comes to the corporate players like Live Nation and AEG the sums of money involved are substantial and ticketing is an essential part of their business model. Whilst many music festivals make reasonable profits each year there equally numerous ones that struggle to break even. The motivation for a festival organiser to transition to a free to attend event may be varied including charitable status or a desire to build audience and brand in an increasingly competitive market.

Alternative Revenue Streams.  
To make an event free would entail generating additional revenue form sponsors, vendors and merch sales for example. Whether sufficient revenue can be generated from these sources to cover the costs of organising a large scale music festival are questionable and the artists curated would have to be scaled down to reduce artists fees. 

Class Divide.
It's easy to spend well in excess of $1,000 on a festival weekend even without buying VIP tickets. The additional costs of travel, accommodation, food and drink can soon add up and on top of a 3-day ticket costing $500 it starts getting cost prohibitive for the majority of music fans. Is the multi day music festival getting out of reach except for those with high disposable incomes? This would support the argument for more ‘free to attend’ festivals making them more socially inclusive.

Value for Money.
The cost of attending a music festival is quite high but organisers will always argue that what festivalgoers get in return represents amazing value for money. If event goers wanted to see their favourite band in a one-off concert the cost is likely to be around $100. Attending a music festival visitors get to see probably up to a hundred main stream performance artists. 

It’s certainly questionable if a major music festival will ever become 'free to attend' because there is just far too much at stake for organisers that invest heavily in putting on their festival each year. Ticket sales revenue is likely to remain a core aspect of every music festival with free to attend events remaining as either promotional one offs or staying firmly as community specialist government sponsored arts festivals.  

For any event organiser planning their festival using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their festival logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing. 

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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