Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Yes, there are some live shows which are recession-proof: Glastonbury

It may not be happening until next June and no-one yet has a clue who will actually be playing, but all tickets for next year’s Glastonbury festival sold out in a few hours yesterday. That’s 137,500 tickets gone just like …

Mon, Oct 4, 2010, 08:59

   

It may not be happening until next June and no-one yet has a clue who will actually be playing, but all tickets for next year’s Glastonbury festival sold out in a few hours yesterday. That’s 137,500 tickets gone just like that, one hell of an achievement at a time when the industry dialogue is about live gigs struggling to sell a few aul’ tickets (Script tours and Michael Buble shows being the exception).

Of course, Glastonbury had plenty of company a few years ago. Festivals selling out their entire allocation of tickets in a few hours was hugely on trend. Sadly, the recession put paid to that notion. Now, most promoters have to actually do some work in order to shift those tickets. Advertising, decent line-ups, flogging the shows on social networking sites, more ads: promoters are now having to spend money (which used to go straight into their piggy-banks in the good times) and make an effort for the first time in years.

No such problems shifting tickets for Michael Eavis: same weekend at the end of June as usual, on-sale date nine months in advance and we’ll announce the line-up nearer the time, thank you very much. While some will argue that the Glastonbury of today is a much different beast to the one which was around a decade or more ago in terms of crowd and pitch, the festival has always had a certain allure which pulls in lashings of pre-game publicity and post-event coverage. Other festivals have come and gone, but Glastonbury’s history and tradition seems to work for it in a way that others can never quite leverage. Sure, they can buy ads and do sponsorship deals and the like, but the Glastonbury kudos is something which very few others (maybe Coachella?) can emulate on the same scale.

What’s also interesting to note is that next year will be the fifth Glastonbury in a row without a break. Unlike Slane Castle, which is usually forced to take regular break years because they can’t find the right acts to attract enough eejits to Co Meath, Eavis used to insist on a gap year every five years to allow the land to recover and give the locals a break. There was no Glastonbury festival in 2001 and 2006, for example, but that hasn’t been the case this time around. While the notion of such a break year probably makes a lot of sense if you’re a local or one of the Eavis’ dairy herd, the live music industry probably prefers to see it on the calendar every year. And it’s worth remembering that, like many of its peers, Glastonbury has ties with Live Nation via Festival Republic who provide “operational management” services and were responsible for increasing the capacity of the event in 2007. One wonders if that has any bearing on the Glastonbury drive for five.

Yet, for all that, selling a shed load of tickets in one go at a time like this is something to be applauded. Many other festivals have sought to ape Glastonbury’s unique selling points, but none of them have succeeded in quite the same way. The proof of the appeal of this pudding is in the “sold out” notices now going up in the west country.

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