A group of independent festival organisers have hit out at what they claim are over-inflated prices being paid by major festivals for their artists, and has said fans will suffer unless spending is curbed.
Ben Turner, co-founder of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which represents smaller festivals such as Bestival, Green Man, Eden Sessions, Get Loaded In The Park, Evolution Festival, Field Day/Underage, Secret Garden Party,WOMAD and Creamfields, told BBC 6 Music fees for major bookings are now topping the £1 million mark. “Prices for talent increases and increases and increases every single year,” he claims. “I think it’s something that agents, managers and artists need to be more aware of, that these festivals that they supposedly love, they need to show some support for that. There comes a point where a promoter has to go, ‘Do you know what? I’m not going to pay that far’.”
Some of the biggest acts in the world, including Muse, Paul McCartney and Eminem are all set to appear in the UK during another busy summer season, while arguably the biggest live attraction in the world at the moment, U2, were also due to appear at the Glastonbury festival before an injury to Bono forced their cancellation.
Turner claims if costs continue to rise smaller festivals will be forced into closure, cutting the large amount of UK festivals fans are currently able to choose from. However, Live Nation’s Andy Copping, who booked Rage Against The Machine, Aerosmith and AC/DC for the recent Download Festival, says promoters have no choice in continuing to pay large sums, despite the current economic recession. “Big bands have to get paid and get paid big money because they’re the ones that are pulling in the people,” he told BBC’s Newsbeat. “It’s always been there and it’s always going to be there. The younger bands, smaller bands, only pull a certain amount of people. The bigger bands pull a big amount of people and they need to be remunerated for that.”
Two acts booked to make headline appearances at UK festivals this summer, Florence & The Machine and Jay-Z, have both given their views on festival prices. Florence Welch told 6Music the prices are simply a result of supply and demand: “Live I think is still where as an artist you can make decent money. There’s a real upsurge in people wanting to see live bands at the moment and people wanting to go to festivals. So promoters are willing to pay for bands to come because there’s a real demand for it, which is great.”
While rapper Jay-Z, who recently topped the bill at the Isle Of Wight festival and will also play at Wireless and T In The Park, said he believes artists must earn their large cheques: “If you’re putting on a high-priced ticket and you’re not performing and you’re not putting in on stage, then I’d be a little bit upset about that.”
Last year’s UK festival season was estimated to have pumped in around £130 million into Britain’s economy.