Music Festivals: The Madding Crowd

Music Festivals: The Madding Crowd
The Black Keys at Bonnaroo, 2011. Photo by C. Taylor Crothers

By Melissa Caruso

In the past decade, plummeting record sales have focused both fan and artists’ interest on live shows. Since 2008, musicians have made more money performing than selling records, and the fastest-growing sector is festivals. Festivals, with jam-packed lineups and bonuses like comedy and film, provide fans more bang for their buck compared to clubs or arenas. Conversely, performers get more buck for their bang.

From the artists’ perspective, festivals offer more exposure than one-off concerts because the diverse lineups and wide ranges in fans’ ages introduce bands to new audiences, and vice-versa. “We didn’t come up in arenas,” said Grace Potter. “The festival became our giant stadium and our big chance to share our sound with the world.” Ashley Capps, founder of AC Entertainment and co-producer of Bonnaroo, is well aware of the rewards of festivals: “There have been moments at Bonnaroo when everything came together and artists have taken a leap to a new level because of that Bonnaroo experience.” Bands like Kings of Leon, Mumford & Sons and My Morning Jacket have grown with their festival appearances. In addition to the exposure, there’s also the paycheck: typically, an act will double its typical concert income at festivals.

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