“Indeed, the season seems more subdued than last year: delayed sales, difficulties to reach a point of profitability…”, confirms Jean-Paul Roland, director of the French rock festival Eurockéennes, in an interview with IQ magazine. “It’s definitely slower than in previous festival seasons”, says Christof Huber, director of OpenAir St. Gallen and board member of Yourope (European Festival Association). It seems that there is less demand for big concerts throughout Europe. So why on earth is this happening?
High ticket prices and repetitive festival line-ups
“My personal view is that the market has been quite saturated for a few years”, says Christof Huber. “Also, the same headliners return too often and sometimes play multiple festival seasons.” It makes sense: Why should fans go to a festival more than once when they see the same bands all over again? Or when the line-up barely differs from other competing festivals. Additionally, big headliners such as Metallica or Muse tour all over Europe anyway and play in football stadiums in front of tens of thousands of people. Fans don't necessarily have to go to a multi-day festival when they can see “hyped” main acts on a single evening for a cheaper price.
No diversity and skyrocketing ticket prices: this development not only affects the promoters, but also the artists. “The core of the problem of repetitive line-ups, for example in bigger German festivals, is that there is a decline in supporting young newcomer acts and building them up to be future headliners”, explains Sebastian Heer of c/o Pop. A young band needs a platform to get started, but that's impossible if the promoters let the same musicians play over and over again.
Regional festivals foster diversity
“As long as you don’t have stages for smaller bands, you are going to die”, says Peter Åstedt. The co-founder of the Swedish festival LIVE AT HEART is convinced that the industry needs new artists to play for the first time for a larger audience. “We have a rule that the artists only play three years in a row”, explains Åstedt. Most bands are relatively unknown in the first year and can be discovered by the audience, then after another season the name is more familiar. “In the third year the audience knows them, so they draw a lot of attention. But after that we say, ‘You have done your stuff now’, because otherwise we get the same bands over and over again.
At smaller and medium-sized festivals, such as LIVE AT HEART, there seems to be a different story. Actually, it is a win-win-situation because newcomers are welcomed on stage. Visitors can enjoy the thrill of being surprised by a fresh, new festival line-up. They can even discover unknown niche bands; tickets prices are cheaper and there is a more intimate atmosphere than at mainstream events.
More confidence and more transparency in live booking
Rethink! Promoters must change their approach and dare to offer unknown bands a platform. Otherwise, repetitive line-ups and overpriced tickets will result in decreasing sales figures and even more cancellations. For instance, small indie festivals or regional events allow young and ambitious artists on stage.
That sounds quite feasible, but how can independent newcomers network with promoters? The answer is simple: they can gain access to live booking by registering at gigmit. We connect promoters with artists in a live music community – at no cost and with minimal administrational effort. “A combination of artist discovery, in combination with fan and streaming data as well as the possibility of direct booking, is a live-business overdue”, says Marcus Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of gigmit.
gigmit offers solutions
gigmit enables digital matchmaking as a first step and then the direct interaction on stage, for example with initiatives such as LASER and INES.
LASER (= Live Artists Search Engine & Recommendations) is an algorithmic software that collects fan and streaming data to help music promoters discover new European artists. Agencies can also search for acts that meet specific program requirements or have a certain fan base.
Our Innovation Network of European Showcases (INES) promotes new talent and international exchange in the live industry. Europe’s best showcase festivals have joined forces: festival organizers from several countries can choose bands and solo artists from a talent pool, the INES#talents. This is great for both parties as young talents have a platform to present their music at concerts abroad.
To sum it up: the festival industry is undergoing a transformation that could lead to unknown bands being given a platform. We at gigmit think this is a great opportunity. Why? Because ideally, repetitive festival line-ups will be replaced by up-and-coming artists who will keep the live music landscape vibrant.