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Why Music Festivals Sometimes Fail.

Andy Robertson

The majority of music festivals are well established with some running for decades as successful annual events. There are unfortunately some festivals that ran for a few years before disappearing for good. What are the success factors that keep some music festivals going year after year while others fall by the wayside. 

It's easy to look back on some iconic music festivals with rose tinted glasses and wonder why the events ceased after just a few years. Perhaps they had great headliners with huge numbers of festival-goers and may have seemed well organised. The reasons some failed is often not due to a single issue but probably a combination of factors. 

Location and Timing.  
The traditional music festival held in a remote location is often subject to the landowner granting permission but if the ownership of that land changes hand or the festival causes too much damage the permission for future events may be revoked. Sometimes this permission can be revoked at a time when organisers will not be able to secure a suitable replacement location. 

Legal and Licensing Issues.
A poorly run music festival can lead to issues with open drug dealing and substance abuse along with a high rate of thefts and assaults or worse. This can lead to police action and subsequent pressure on licensing authorities to refuse the granting of required licences for future events. There can be legal wrangles between owners, organisers and financiers of the festival that lead to a complete breakdown of the organising entity leading to each going their separate ways.

Financial Management. 
Probably the most common cause of failure is poor financial control and how to manage costs and revenue causing unsustainable annual losses. A well run and organised festival will have a solid financial plan from the outset with accurate estimates of supplier costs plus ticket, vendor and sponsor revenue. Having a financially astute accounting team can ensure that budgeting and forecasting is monitored and action taken when something is not quite right. The pricing of tickets, vendor pitches and sponsorship packages needs to be sufficient to cover the supplier costs and artist fees to ensure a profit. On rare occasions financial mismanagement can lead to fraudulent behaviour from undesirable organisers with some well documented cases of such individuals being prosecuted for theft and financial crimes.

The trends in music genres shift and change like the wind and whilst many music festivals may focus on a specific genre organisers should be shrewd enough to take advantage of trends and understand customer behaviour. Many music festivals have evolved over time and diversified their offerings to give festival-goers a more varied experience. It's now common to have plenty of other activities taking place during a festival rather than just the music performances. 

For organisers planning their music festivals using a software management platform like
Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event 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, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Image by stefy123 from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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