We’re barely halfway through the 2011 summer festival season, but already good news is coming from around the US. Attendance is up. Demand is strong. About time.
Festival attendance is particularly strong so far. The National Arts Festival attendance this year is up 7.45% from last; the Oregon Bach Festival had record attendance. The Country Music Festival in Nashville was a sell out. Coachella had record turn-outs. The Utah Arts Festival attendance went up by over 15% from last year. Other festivals are showing good ticket sales for dates later this month and into August. From rock to country to classical, from top name performers to town square bands, America is turning out for live music this summer.
Are we music and arts hungry? For sure. Are we longing for good and enjoyable times? Absolutely. Anyone who thinks great music of any genre or live arts of any type is an unnecessary frill is wrong: it seems we can go without for a long time, but finally, finally, we have had enough silence! People have saved up for tickets and have put off other expenses in this recession so that at last they can get their live arts fix. Music heals. Festivals celebrate. And in a dour economy, summer live arts under the stars give us something to cheer about.
Free festivals are packing us in across the country – no surprise in this economy, with this level of pent up demand. And low cost tickets, flexible pricing and ticket bargains are helping paid events post better numbers than last year. So yes, price does matter, and even the affluent are bargain shopping. Time will tell, but the growing aversion to surcharges, extra ticket fees and hidden costs seems to be growing, and if anything this factor is the one significant negative impacting ticket sales this year. Concert buyers have had it. I have to believe that sometime – sooner rather than later – the entire ticket surcharge factor will blow up, and the elimination of surcharges will be a huge incentive to a real resurgence in ticket purchases.
By the way, if you are heading to the beach or forest and want a good industry book this summer that deals with ticket surcharges and other insider stuff, grab a copy of Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry, and How the Public got Scalped, by Dean Budnick and Josh Baron.
But don’t let it get you down. Buy a ticket to a concert. Sit under the stars. And be revived with live music this year.