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The Crowded UK Music Festival Sector.

Andy Robertson

The music festival sector in the UK has been booming and growing over the last few decades with an estimated 600+ taking place every year by 2020. A perfect storm of occurrences over the last 4 years has seen the sector decimated leaving many festival organisations struggling for survival. Were there already too many festivals? and what does the future hold for the industry?

Whilst it’s right to mourn the loss of any music festival will the current status of the industry result in a more robust sector for the future. When any market has too many suppliers and not enough buyers the number of suppliers must go down, that’s just basic supply and demand economics. It is entirely possible that the UK festival sector was approaching capacity by 2020 but the impact of the COVID pandemic accelerated the process. 

Economic Crisis and Rising Costs. 
The impact of the pandemic was bad enough with most festivals cancelling and using up reserve funds to survive. After the pandemic ended the world was plunged into economic uncertainty exasperated by conflict that started to drive energy costs up. By 2023 an economic crisis had landed in the UK with high inflation, high interest rates and stagnant growth. Festival organisers have been faced with rising costs from suppliers and weak festival-goer demand driven by the cost-of-living crisis. 

Ticket Sales. 
The nature and pattern of festival ticket sales has also probably changed with many potential ticket buyers delaying purchase until very late in the sales cycle. More festival-goers are also opting for payment plans to help spread the cost of purchase. Many festival organisers are reluctant to increase their ticket prices for fear of driving away potential customers, the exception being the larger more financially robust festivals like Glastonbury who have increased their ticket prices significantly and still managed to sell out. 

It is possible that the demographics of festival-goers will change as there was no live music events for about 2 years. This impacted the age group 18 - 25 who would often attend their first music festival as a rite of passage to adulthood. They never got to experience their first music festival at that young age and perhaps interest has waned. In addition, there has been a shift in genre popularity as more ‘manufactured’ music was consumed online during that period. Festival-goer demographics are now likely to be more biased towards older age groups.

Grass Roots Development. 
Up and coming musical artists always start their early careers in the plethora of smaller music festivals and venues throughout the country. This grass roots base for developing musical talent was impacted by the live event shut down and now these venues and smaller festivals are seemingly unable to justify their existence and being forced to close. 

The Future. 
The factors above are all contributing to a music festival industry that appears to be contracting and although this can be terrible for organisers, artists and suppliers this contraction may have longer term benefits. Future music festivals will be delivering their ‘product’ to an audience willing to pay higher prices because they have less choice. It’s sad for the festivals that are disappearing, but it is probably just basic economics at work. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics making their events run more efficiently. 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.

Photo by candidsoul via Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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