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Pohoda's Michal Kaščák says it's a "mistake" for promoters to focus only on "rich audiences" as potential festivalgoers flock to esports and YouTube events
By Jon Chapple on 27 Sep 2016
Many music festivals are alienating their traditional audiences by focusing on “middle-aged, middle-class” attendees at the expense of young people, the founder of Slovakia’s largest festival has said.
Speaking on Reeperbahn Festival’s Festival Season 2016/17 panel, Michal Kaščák, who promotes the 30,000-cap./day Pohoda, expressed his concern that western European and North Americans events are “focusing on as rich audiences as possible”. By pricing so highly, he said, “we [festivals] are losing our connection to younger people”.
“Audiences are becoming middle-aged and middle-class,” said Kaščák, whose festival is priced at €89 for a three-day ticket. “You can’t do it if you’re 18, 19 any more.”
Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live, said young audiences (albeit it slightly younger than the 18- and 19-year-olds highlighted by Kaščák) are instead flocking to eSports events and live shows by YouTubers.
“By the time people get to 10, 12, 14” – when they’re too old for family entertainment events but too young for increasingly expensive major festivals – “there’s a gap in the market,” said Galbraith. “We’ve promoted events [by YouTube stars] attended by over 30,000 people, all of whom are 13–14 and not interested in going to festivals because they’re bedroom geeks.”
“Audiences are becoming middle-aged and middle-class. You can’t do them if you’re 18, 19 any more”
Roskilde Festival’s head of programming, Anders Wahrén, agreed that such events “cater to people who would never go to a [traditional music] festival”.
On the Help the Aged panel, however, veteran artist manager Simon Napier-Bell (The Yardbirds, Japan, Wham!) offered a different perspective, arguing that expensive, ‘prestige’ act-heavy events such as “Oldchella” (Desert Trip) are a natural consequence of the end of the post-war generation gap between parents and children.
“There’s very little generation gap now,” Napier-Bell said. “Everyone hated their parents back then. What made The Rolling Stones popular is that [their manager] Andrew Loog Oldham made it so that adults would hate them!”
Author and journalist Katja Kullman agreed: “Culture has democratised,” she said. “Now, everyone can pick and choose and create their own cultural identity.”
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