Explaining the Economics of the Summer Music Festival

There was a time not that long ago when summer music festivals were a thing for Europeans and (maybe) Australians. Now, though, with the decline in the number of stadium-level headliners and the rise in the cost of touring, festivals have become a cost-efficient way to deliver music for promoters, artists and fans.

Vox.com goes deeper into the economics that make summer festivals viable for North America.

This weekend, thousands of flower-crowned, shorts-wearing music fans will flock to California’s desert to watch some of the best bands in the world play.

Coachella, which costs roughly $400 minimum to attend, is one of the biggest summer music festivals in the nation. With its two weekends and celebrity-packed grounds, it’ll kick off the summer music festival season with a bang. It will also make a huge chunk of money for the music industry.

Throughout the summer, the same bands (mostly) will tour around the country, performing at festivals that resemble Coachella in almost every way — but cater to each crowd differently:

Bonnaroo (June 11–14 in Manchester, Tennessee) has a 40-foot waterslide this year. Lollapalooza (July 31–August 2 in Chicago) has a kid-friendly area, and Coachella has a dozen VIP-only areas. But music festivals haven’t always been such a huge ordeal.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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