The Future of Music Festivals

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Music festivals Coachella and Lollapalooza are already sold out andBonnaroo is not far behind. However, next year is seeing a new influx of music festivals, so there is hope for those who missed out this year. Even as this year’s festival season is still going strong, the biggest organizers are already planning next year.

The late 1990s saw a major crash in music festivals through bad publicity and a rapidly changing music scene. However, CoachellaLollapaloozaAustin City Limits Festival and Bonnaroo made it out of that wasteland and have been happening for at least ten years each. Now even more are cropping up all over the country with big headliners sometimes organizing the events themselves.

While there are more festivals cropping up, it is harder to find relevant main acts. Organizers are hitting attendees with headliners like Tom Petty, The Heartbreakers, and The Stone Roses. Mainstream audiences are not going for that without complaint but still buying tickets.

Grace Potter, a major festival player and organizer, says that festivals are about kicking up the little known bands and putting them on stage. That is part of their magic. She said it is also important to keep the audiences coming in, so organizers cannot “fractalize too much.”

Knoxville, Tennessee promoter Capps said he plans to organize a few more festivals next year than this year. He believes that concertgoers are looking for the most music for their buck. As ticket prices for major venues rise, forcing ticket holders to spend $100 or more on tickets for one or two big bands, spending a little more for more than 100 bands and a few big headliners is more appealing. Of course, music festival fans are the type of consumers that keep coming back for more as well, so they can hit up all of the local festivals in a single year.

Rock legends Metallica are among the artists starting their own music festivals. They are the creators of Onion Music and More, which was in Jersey last year and will be in Michigan this year. After playing so many festivals, they decided to make one of their own. The deciding festival was Bonnaroo.


Wilco axe man Nels Cline goes to plenty of festivals as a performer, but avoids watching them from the audience. He believes that fans are put in unseemly conditions that he would not tolerate. They camp on insufficient sites, which is tough for even hardened fans and musicians.

Wilco, including Cline, are organizing Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He touts it as a much more relaxed environment that does not require fans to brutalize themselves for a bit of music. The way he describes it makes it sound like a progressive festival that cares about the health of fans, provides indoor and outdoor venues and changes up the scenery of the average festival.

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