Europe’s festival market might have reached saturation point, but feedback from event organisers suggests fierce competition is not harming the vast majority of festivals
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An annual look at the health of the European festival market.
By IQ on 05 Jan 2016
Optimism is the key theme in this year’s European Festival Report, backed up by the fact that attendance has risen across the board and capacities themselves have increased. But there are pressing concerns, not the least of which is soaring artist fees…
On the surface, the results extrapolated from IQ’s annual survey of the European festivals sector are very encouraging indeed. A small rise in ticket costs in 2015 did not dissuade fans from getting their fix of festival fun, while a hike in capacities across festival sites and venues throughout Europe proved a wise move, as more people attended events compared to 2014.
One promoter based in what might be described as an emerging European market reported that he had been forced to cut his festival bill from 180 acts in 2014 to 120 in 2015, purely because of rising artist fees.
Scratch below the surface, however, and there are some worrying trends – the biggest of which appears to be a massive jump in artist fees. Among the many conversations IQ had with festival promoters this year, one theme that was raised time and again was the spiralling booking fees, which are getting steeper, year-on-year.
One promoter based in what might be described as an emerging European market reported that he had been forced to cut his festival bill from 180 acts in 2014 to 120 in 2015, purely because of rising artist fees. The knock-on effect for bands lower down the bill to secure festival slots – and therefore build their fan bases – is potentially devastating, given that’s one-third of the acts from two years ago now effectively priced out of the market. And that may get worse in the year ahead, as other festival promoters are regularly bemoaning the huge increase in fees, with at least one highlighting one act whose festival price has doubled in just one year, while agents for other acts are demanding increases of up to 50% on some artists compared to a year ago
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