Why Are Music Festivals Getting So Expensive?

One of the first ever posts on this site looked at the rise in ticket prices for Glastonbury. The point of the article was to explain the concept of inflation. However, in the post I noted that only a small portion of the change in price was due to inflationI recently saw a video by the Economist which discussed the other reasons for the rise in price of music festival tickets globally so I thought I would address the topic for this week’s post.

To give some perspective on how much the price for festival tickets has changed over the years, a ticket to Glastonbury in 2019 costed £248 and in 1979 it costed just £5. Now obviously a certain portion of this increase is due to inflation. However, if we use an inflation calculator we can see that £5 in 1979 is equal to just £25.09 in 2019. This leaves us with a remainder of £222.91 which is not explained by inflation.

The rest of this increase can be explained by various factors. One is that higher attendances at music festivals has been driving up the need for more facilities and amenities than at previous festivals. However, the main reason for the price increase is down to a change in the basic economic structure of the music industry. Tom Standage, deputy editor/head of digital strategy for the Economist, explains that there has been a shift towards touring instead of selling music.

In years gone by, musicians made most of their money from selling their music. They toured then in order to promote their music in places they wanted it to sell. Whereas now with streaming culture musicians make considerably less money from selling their music and as a result have to rely on touring more to supplement their income. This has led to an increase in the fees which musicians demand for playing at festivals, which bumps up the prices of the tickets.

By Daragh O’Leary

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