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Bonnaroo sales down, but community “vibrant”

A fall in Bonnaroo ticket sales has been attributed to various factors, while promoters stress it's business as usual

By IQ on 15 Jul 2016

Haim, Bonnaroo 2016, Joshua Brasted

Haim play at Bonnaroo 2016

image © Joshua Brasted

The 2016 edition of Bonnaroo was the least-attended in the festival’s history, with ticket sales down 28,156 on last year and 46% from an all-time high of 85,094 in 2011.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – which has taken place in the 650-acre Great Stage Park (‘The Farm’) in Manchester, Tennessee since 2002 – sold just 45,537 tickets, reveals public records obtained by the Nashville Tennessean’s Nate Rau.

According to Rau, Bonnaroo anticipated the drop in sales and warned Coffee County council – which takes $3 of every ticket sold – attendance at the four-day festival would be lower than usual.

Speaking to the Tennessean, David Herrera, a professor at Belmont University in Nashville, speculates that the result could be “a combination of competing events and prices”.

“Could be the heat, humidity or perhaps what business theory calls the ‘law of diminishing returns’…”

“Given that live shows are still showing growth, it can be [one of many] reasons,” he says. “Could be the heat, humidity or perhaps what business theory calls the ‘law of diminishing returns’: each time you go back, you are a a little less satisfied and are less likely to attend again, unless you can attract new talent or really improve the facilities.” (The latter of which Bonnaroo most certainly did, installing for the first time permanent flushing toilets and showers.)

While the festival doesn’t release visitor numbers, it acknowledged the drop in sales but said it’s confident about bouncing back next year. “For the past 15 years we’ve been extremely fortunate to have over a million fans share the Bonnaroo experience with us,” read a statement on 12 June. “While our attendance is slightly lower this year, the Bonnaroo community is as vibrant as ever and excited about celebrating this milestone year on The Farm.”


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