Is the Summer Music Festival Bubble REALLY About to Burst?

In Music Festivals by Jonny McMusicLeave a Comment

I recently read a trending post titled, “Why the Summer Music Festival Bubble is About to Burst.” Grayson Haver Currin, from the blog Wondering Sound, claims that the business model for music festivals was successful in the past, but too many copycat festivals are jumping into the game. In reference to the North American festival scene, Currin writes,

“… There are signs that the exponential curve of festival growth is a path to an unsustainable scenario, where too many festivals overshoot talent costs and overrun the ability of fans to buy tickets at all.”

In other words, with more festivals there is a higher demand for performers. With a higher demand, the performers charge more, forcing the festivals to raise their prices.

 

 

 

You get the point. But is it valid? Do the people in the above photo really care about a $50 difference in ticket price?

If you read the finance papers, you can find bubble bursting ‘predictions’ everywhere. It’s a common approach used to shock readers and gain influence, but it’s always a load of bullshit. Plus, in the process of proving his point, Currin quotes some stressed-out employees from festival production companies. In reality, nobody can predict with 100 percent certainty that a bubble will burst (or even 90%). His skeptical opinion may not hold weight against some actual data.

I always have a little fun playing with Google Trends. If you don’t know what that is, Google Trends is the best way to discover what the world is interested in. It is a mind-blowing research tool that can compare Google web searches from around the world. If you want to discover if Miley Cyrus is searched more than Justin Bieber, you can do it. If you want to discover who searches for ‘sushi’, you will see Denmark at the top of the list. With this seemingly transcendent tool, you can find that North Americans are crazy about music festivals.

In the chart below, we can see the amount of searches for “music festival” over time in the United States. In the summer of 2014, people searched this term more than ever in history. Ever. In fact, music festival searches are almost twice as popular now than in 2009.
Currin writes, The supply of festivals is at an all-time high, but no one knows if that’s necessarily true of demand. If demand hasn’t actually increased, higher ticket prices violate one of the most elementary rules of economics.”

Does this immediately invalidate Currin’s point? Maybe. I don’t have access to any financial statements that show declining profits from festivals. But now that we know that people are still interested in music festivals, there can still be a decrease in profits. Actually, it is very likely that the industry will shrink after such massive growth.

Americans may stop buying festival tickets due to increased prices. But I don’t think it will be a ‘bubble burst’ – and calling it that is simply an exaggeration. To continue with Currin’s theme of finance jargon, just as a company’s stock price swings up and dips down, the industry may experience some low times (but what industry doesn’t!?).

It is WRONG to blame the potential downfall of music festivals on their success. If music festivals are going to stay alive, then they need to constantly improve, just like every other industry. Festivals should always be fun, refreshing and exciting!

Now that we know there is a demand – that interest in attending music festivals is at an all-time high, a ‘bubble burst’ would be the festivals’ own faults.