Just as the Internet changed the recording industry, music festivals have altered the course of concert tours. Of course, music festivals are no new initiative. I imagine if I were to be transported back to the Dark Ages I could walk into a town square in the middle of summer and enjoy a day of merry fueled by mead and live music from a number of local groups. Heck, Woodstock (the original) seemed the pinnacle of the live music experience in the 20th century.
Yet, post-Woodstock the music festival seemed a novelty. Sure Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young collaborated to develop Farm Aid in the mid-1980s. But far and wide music festivals seemed the territory of county fears and civic events like Chicago’s Bluesfest. They certainly attracted millions, but the buzz surrounding these free events now come in second to the national frenzy of private-run music festivals. They include Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Summerfest, and many, many more.
The website Festival Finder claims there are 2,500 music festivals every year in North America. They celebrate every music genre imaginable, from alternative to children’s music to marching band. The bigger events last a weekend or two and attract huge names. No longer are music festivals the destinations of duo wop bands surviving on nostalgia and up-and-coming country acts.
Instead, new indie rock bands appreciate the opportunity to play before thousands instead of gravitating to a series of cramped clubs. Major label recording artists still topping the Billboard charts like to kick off world tours with an appearance at these as if they are shots of adrenaline for the long haul. Groups reuniting can play before the same thousands and attract those who enjoy the nostalgia of the hits from the 1980s and the youth intrigued to see if the group has grown musically.
From an industry POV, these are perhaps the safest venues in which to promote. There is a captivated audience wandering the grounds waiting to rock out or fighting the urge to pass out before the evening’s headliner. As the new music junkie is no longer limited to the radio, this is the only way to ensure the group plays before people with little option to listen, if at least for the time it takes to navigate the swelling crowds of beach blankets.
These events sell out quickly, whether they are offering three-day passes, single-day passes, or a combination of both. It is at these times it is best to turn to sites like OnlineSeats. Next month’s Coachella Music Festival is already sold out, but we have three-day pass tickets for a mere $213. The same goes for the other big names – Bonnaroo, Summerfest, and Lollapalooza.