Mu­sic fes­ti­vals shake money maker for UK


Mu­sic fes­ti­vals like Glastonbury some­times leave the Bri­tish coun­try­side strewn with dis­carded tents and beer cans for days af­ter — but they’re big money-spin­ners for the na­tion’s econ­omy, gen­er­at­ing bil­lions from revel­ers fol­low­ing the world’s big­gest bands.

Fans from both Bri­tain and abroad are drawn by events that have been run­ning for sev­eral decades — such as the Isle of Wight fes­ti­val and Glastonbury, which kicks off Wed­nes­day — plus newer bou­tique gath­er­ings with smaller crowds and bands, like Wales’s Green Man.

Some 9.5 mil­lion peo­ple at­tended Bri­tish fes­ti­vals and con­certs in 2014, gen­er­at­ing over 3 bil­lion pounds (4.2 bil­lion eu­ros, US$4.8 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the in­dus­try-backed pro­mo­tional group UK Mu­sic last week.

Nearly 550,000 mu­sic tourists came from abroad — up 39 per­cent since 2011.

“Bands play­ing in muddy fields and con­cert halls around the UK have not only been adding to hap­pi­ness and well­be­ing, but have been driv­ing wealth into re­cov­er­ing lo­cal economies across the whole of the UK,” said the study.

Cul­ture min­is­ter John Whit­ting­dale called the find­ings “fan­tas­tic” but said he was not sur­prised as fes­ti­vals like Glastonbury “hold an iconic sta­tus on the world mu­sic scene.”

Jo Dip­ple, UK Mu­sic’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, added: “The UK’s rich mu­sic her­itage and in­fra­struc­ture has made the UK the goto des­ti­na­tion for live mu­sic glob­ally and these sta­tis­tics show how tourism is now a bedrock of Bri­tish mu­sic and the wider econ­omy.”

In south­west Eng­land, where Glastonbury has been held since 1970 at Wor­thy Farm in Som­er­set, mu­sic tourism gen­er­ated 297 mil­lion pounds last year, in­clud­ing 221 mil­lion pounds from fes­ti­vals. Glastonbury is thought to ac­count for around a third of this.

Fu­ture of the Mu­sic In­dus­try?

While it gen­er­ates sig­nif­i­cant rev­enues, Glastonbury is also one of the most ex­pen­sive fes­ti­vals in the world to at­tend, ac­cord­ing to No1 Cur­rency, a for­eign ex­change cur­rency ser­vice.

Ad­mis­sion is 225 pounds but the av­er­age to­tal spend is 565 pounds, mak­ing it the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive in the world be­hind Roskilde in Den­mark.

Mu­sic fes­ti­vals aren’t just big busi­ness in Europe. The United States is also home to a grow­ing fes­ti­val scene, with Cal­i­for­nia’s Coachella, among the big­gest, draw­ing 175,000 fans in April. The fes­ti­val had a turnover of US$78 mil­lion in 2014.

At a global level, San Fran­cisco-based online mar­ket­place Eventbrite han­dled ticket sales for 50,000 mu­sic and other fes­ti­vals around the world last year, a 50 per­cent in­crease in 12 months.

With many mu­si­cians strug­gling to make as much money as they used to due to the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the in­dus­try and the ad­vent of stream­ing, some sug­gest fes­ti­vals could be an eco­nomic life­line for them, as well as ben­e­fit­ing host coun­tries.

“I think mu­sic fes­ti­vals are ba­si­cally the fu­ture of the in­dus­try. It’s the only area where you are re­ally see­ing a lot of growth,” said Parag Bhan­dari, the head of UG Strate­gies which re­cently launched the Uphoric dig­i­tal tele­vi­sion net­work ded­i­cated to cov­er­ing the global fes­ti­val cir­cuit.

“It’s re­ally the last area in the mu­sic in­dus­try where there is real money to be made for artists.”


A mu­sic fan ar­rives at The Glastonbury Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in south­west Eng­land on Wed­nes­day, June 24.

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