With the summer fast approaching a lot of people will be getting excited for festival season. The allure of festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella is enough to get some to empty their bank accounts on a great music filled weekend away rolling around in the mud. But for those of us in Ireland who fancy the weekend but not the trip away, we still have some pretty good options. Ireland has very good selection of music festivals which attract some of the world’s top acts. The issue is they still put a decent dent in your pocket. Weekend tickets to this years Electric Picnic festival cost €260 and by the time you factor in travelling to and from the festival, buying your supplies, and paying your way while at the festival you could be talking the bones of €400-500 for the weekend.
Due to this it only makes sense that people should be aware of their options for festivals this year. Unfortunately, there is no real way of assessing how good one festival is relative to another. There are just too many aspects to consider. So, I thought I would conduct an analysis based on just one of these factors, the headlining acts. Now again there is no one way of working out if one set of headlining acts are better than another because you may try to use objective evidence like record sales to argue that one is better than another and this may not match up with people’s subjective opinions regarding the artists or their music.
None the less you can still make a case that if the average consumer is somewhat indifferent to the music of the acts at a festival and just go to the festival for the sake of a weekend out (which seems to be the case a lot of the time) then they would at least like to think that they bought the ticket which in addition to satisfying their demand for a weekend away also provides them with the additional benefit of getting to listen to acts they are more likely to have heard before than ones they would be unfamiliar with. In this sense we can say that the size of the headlining acts is a worthwhile factor to consider or even just be aware of when deciding which festival to go to.
With this in mind I will compare the number of combined monthly Spotify listeners which the three main headlining acts of the Electric Picnic festival of Loais, the Longditude festival of Dublin, the Indiependance festival of Cork, the Sea Sessions festival of Donegal, and the All Together Now festival of Waterford. This will give an indication of the size of the headlining acts in terms of notoriety for each festival by showing how much they are listened to by Spotify users. So, this is not a measurement of quality of all the acts or even the festival in general, just a measurement of the size of the headlining acts at each festival. The results can be seen mapped in the below figure.
As can be seen above, the Dublin Longditude festival is the leader with their headlining acts having over 51 million monthly Spotify listeners. In second is the Electric Picnic festival of Loais with over 16 million monthly Spotify listeners. Third place is the All Together Now festival of Waterford with nearly 10 and a half million monthly Spotify listeners. The fourth spot goes to the Sea Sessions festival of Donegal with just over 10 million monthly Spotify listeners, and in last spot comes my home county of Cork’s Indiependance festival with just over 7 million monthly Spotify listeners.
What has to be considered here is obviously the genre of music which the acts belong to. The Dublin Longditude festival is by far the leading festival in terms of headliner size, but all three of these acts are American rap artists; Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, and A$AP Rocky. Rap is a very popular genre of music at the moment and these artists produce this type of music exceptionally well and are at the forefront of the current rap movement which helps explain their large number of monthly listeners. Whereas the Electric Picnic festival headliners seem to be older artists from different music movements; Rage Against The Machine, Snow Patrol, and The Chemical Brothers. So, while these artists may be less popular and current than the artists headlining the Longditude festival it could be the case that you prefer their music to rap, in which case you should opt to choose a different festival.
Another interesting thing to look at with the size of these headlining acts is how much they have changed from last year. This can be seen graphed below and uses data from a post I did last year for www.musiceconomics.com. This is of note because it points out that the headlining acts for the majority of Irish festivals have decreased in the last year. The only exception is the All Together Now festival of Waterford which is a very good sign given that the festival is still in its infancy.
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By Daragh O’Leary