Every year, new trends and challenges shape the global festival and events market. New festival technology, the global economic climate and event production costs have all impacted the industry in recent years, but with the European festival season just around the corner we’re asking:
What were the top trends that shaped the festival industry in 2015?
How are European festival organisers planning to improve their events in 2016?
And what’s keeping festival promoters awake at night?
1. Massive jump in artist fees
The biggest trend and indeed concern for festival owners and promoters in 2015 was the massive jump in artist fees.
Some artist fees have doubled in price in the space of a year and one festival promoter reported that he had been forced to cut his festival bill from 180 acts in 2014 to 120 in 2015 because of the steep hike in artist fees.
IQ reports that the knock-on effect for bands lower down the bill who are trying to build their fan base is potentially devastating, given that one-third of the acts from two years ago are now effectively priced out of the market.
2. Festival ticket prices stay the same while venue capacities increase
Good news for festival fans is that despite soaring artist fees, festival owners are not passing the cost on to customers by increasing event ticket prices. Instead, many festival organisers are increasing the capacity of their festival venues so they can sell larger volumes of tickets.
In 2015 there was a 6.3% increase in venue capacity, that’s on top of a 3.3% boost in capacity in 2014.
More good news is that with the increase in venue capacity, festivals are also seeing increased attendance with 46% of festivals reporting sell-out events in 2015, up from 43% in the previous year.
Reasons for a decline in festival ticket sales
By all accounts, the trends and stats point to an increasingly buoyant festival market in Europe, but for those festivals that experienced a decline in ticket sales, promoters cited the following reasons:
- Bad weather or conditions in previous year
- Festival wars
- Line-up issues
- Competition from other festivals
- Economic crises
- Date changes
3. As the competition heats up, music festivals are announcing headline acts earlier
A big trend for music festivals is that event promoters are starting to announce headline acts a lot earlier than before. The traditional promotional strategy for festivals was to drip-feed headline acts over a series of months but with increasing competition for a finite pool of acts, many festival promoters are announcing headline acts eight to nine months in advance as opposed to four to five months in advance which used to be the industry norm.
Earlier line-up announcements are one tactic to capture more of the festival audience but many festivals are going all out with their line-up marketing tactics. Guardian music news editor, Harriet Gibson, reported that “it’s the competitive nature, and need to draw in young audience members with a one-ticket per year budget, that has taken the promotional experimentation to a new level”
Gibson commented on how Spanish festival, Primavera Sound announced its line up by asking fans to download an app to reveal all the details and gain access to an exclusive bonus video of British band, Cinerama. Over at Bestival, they announced their 2015 line-up exclusively on Instagram, taking over the feed with a series of puzzle pieces which fitted together to provide the full bill of artists, and in 2016 they have created their own video to introduce the hotly anticipated annual theme for the event 'Join us in the future'.
4. How festival organisers are improving the experience for fans
As festival organisers strive to keep fans happy and returning year after year, in 2016 they're focusing on making big improvements to the event experience. European festivals are adding new stages, expanding venues and improving kids and family areas. They're upgrading camping grounds, increasing the number of toilet and shower facilities and adding more entertainment within the campsites themselves. Improving caterers and food outlets is also top of the agenda for many festivals and as always, most organisers are looking at ways to improve the carbon footprint of their event.
5. Top music festival industry concerns
On a positive note, it’s good to see the global economy and ticket pricing falling further down the list of industry concerns in 2015, but a new set of worries is keeping festival promoters up at night. IQ’s report highlights the following top industry concerns for 2016:
- Artist fees
- Competition from other festivals
- Lack of suitable headliners
- Production costs
- The weather
- The economic climate
- Ticket prices
- Licensing of safety legislation
By all accounts the vibe across the European festival market is a positive one. Festival owners and promoters reported increased capacities as well as attendance at their events, and despite massive hikes in artist fees, the cost is not being passed on to fans with increased ticket prices.
But the question remains, with increasing competition across the board how will festivals continue to attract and retain more loyal fans? Clearly, festival organisers are working hard to improve the event experience, and stretching their purse strings to sign good acts, but will this be enough? Share your thoughts below.
For more on these trends and stats check out the full IQ Report and get the top European festival trends infographic here