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Price rise slows as 11% of European fests slash ticket costs

The increase in ticket prices for European music festivals slowed this year, reveals IQ’s new European Festival Report 2017, with the average cost of a ticket increasing only marginally after a huge jump from 2015 to 2016.

Reflecting increased costs for talent and production, ticket prices spiralled 8% in 2016, with OpenAir St Gallen’s Christof Huber pointing to a combination of rising security/infrastructure costs and, especially, artist fees. In 2017, that growth has largely stabilised, increasing just 1% to €148.36 (from €146.22).

Keeping that average price pegged are a number of factors: while 49% of European Festival Report 2017 survey respondents raised their ticket prices in 2017, 36% maintained pricing at last year’s levels. With artist fees, production costs and security, in particular, costing more year on year, increasing ticket prices hardly come as a surprise.

However, a significant 11% of festivals around Europe decided to decrease their ticket prices in 2017. Some reasoned that fewer festival days warranted a price break, while others simply could not secure big-name headline acts and were therefore able to keep prices down.

Festival ticket price increase, European Festival Report 2017

One area of ticketing that has undergone significant surgery in the past 12 months is the way in which our surveyed festivals sell their tickets. In our 2016 report, we noted that, overall, 51% of tickets were sold via the festivals’ own websites, while third-party online sales accounted for 27% of total sales.

This year, the dominance of online sales outlets was even more pronounced, with online sales via festivals’ own websites increasing their share to an impressive 60%, while third-party website sales also gained a bigger slice of the pie with 30% of overall festival ticket sales.

Underlining the growing importance of online sales, two years ago our 2015 report recorded sales by festivals’ own websites of just 42%, while third-party online sales were 39%. This could suggest that festival management have determinedly taken control of their own ticketing inventory to try to improve profit margins, rather than pay percentages to third-party sellers. However, the fact that those third-party online platforms increased their share of sales in 2017 might point to a marketing fight-back by the ticketing specialists, albeit at the expense of call-centre workers.

Get the full lowdown on Europe’s festival summer, including insights into capacity and attendance, staffing, VIP options, overseas attendance, new tech and RFID, safety, concerts and more, in the European Festival Report 2017.

European Festival Report 2017


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European Festival Report 2017

A total of 120 festivals took part in the 2017 European Festival Report and most of those events reported successful business for the year, despite the numerous challenges that promoters face when it comes to booking talent, securing licences, enhancing site security and planning for inclement weather. Costs across the board may be rising, but the public appetite for music festivals still appears to be on the increase too, so the takeaways from this year’s report are thankfully more positive than negative.

For the purposes of our quantitative reporting (ie the number crunching), we called upon the services of Live Data Agency’s Claire Buckle and Chris Carey, whose analytic skills and economist backgrounds have helped make sense of the data that so many of you trusted us with. Thanks go to both Live Data Agency (LDA) and everyone who took the time to fill in our survey forms.

One caveat is that, for reasons of accuracy, we only collated the numbers from festivals whose daily capacity was above the 10,000 mark. The data submitted by smaller events has nevertheless been invaluable, notably through the commentaries that organisers shared regarding results and strategic planning, but in our efforts to deliver you meaningful information that you can use to help your business, when it comes to data such as pricing, VIP uptake, attendance and staffing, we have discounted the quantitative information for those events with daily audiences of less than 10,000 people.

Europe’s festival organisers had a relatively problem-free summer compared to previous years, when the weather, in particular, played havoc across the continent

As with all European festival seasons, 2017 of course claimed a number of casualties. In the UK alone, the final day at Y Not Festival in Derbyshire fell victim to a muddy fate, Flashback in Nottingham was canned because of poor ticket sales and Hope & Glory in Liverpool folded mid-event amid rows concerning overcrowding and artist cancellations. But generally, Europe’s festival organisers had a relatively problem-free summer compared to previous years when the weather, in particular, played havoc across the continent.

And that sunny overview is underlined by the confidence being shown by promoters such as the people behind Exit, which is expanding to five countries in 2018 with the addition of Festival84 in Bosnia and Herzegovina next year, joining Sea Dance in Montenegro, Sea Star in Croatia, Revolution in Romania and the classic Exit Festival in Serbia. Indeed, cashing in on the confidence infused in fans through their enjoyable 2017 festival experiences, the number of early announcements regarding line-ups and headliners for summer 2018 has been relentless in recent weeks, while early-bird ticket offers for 2018 have been running since the day after some 2017 events ended – and were even on sale at a number of festivals during the 2017 season.


Read the European Festival Report 2017 in the digital edition of IQ 75: