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Shifting Trends in Ticket Buying Behaviour for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

The post-COVID world was supposed to be a boom time for music festival organisers with pent up demand driving attendance. Whilst some music festivals were sold out others had to be cancelled because of poor ticket sales. What's been the driving force behind the success or failure of music festivals in 2022.


There is no simple answer to why some festivals fared better in 2022 than others, it is likely that a combination of factors are at play. The impact of the economic crisis, supply chain issues and labour shortages have increased running costs and ticket buying behaviour is changing too.

Delayed Decision Making.
It has been documented by some festival organisers that there has been an increase in the number of ticket sales taking place in the final 30 days* prior to their event dates. In previous years it’s likely that festival-goers purchased tickets as soon as they were released with popular events selling out fast. With money now being tight that buying decision is probably being delayed as festival-goers put more thought into their buying decision. This may include consideration of the line-up announced, travel and accommodation logistics and overall value for money.

Rising Costs and Labour Shortages.
It has already been well documented this year that festival organisers are suffering from rising costs for just about every aspect of the festival infrastructure and operation and this has been exasperated by a severe shortage of experienced festival staff. Without deep pockets and meticulous financial planning festival organisations can quickly run into problems.

Impact on Cash Flow. 
With many music festivals earning more than 60% of their revenue from ticket sales having 46%* of that income coming in within 30 days of the event dates makes running the festival highly risky. If the ticket revenue is being used to pay suppliers, staff and artists the festival organisation can quickly run into financial problems unless they have sufficient funds to set aside for cash flow shortages.

Artist Curation and Genre Selection. 
Festival-goers are being more discerning in deciding which festivals to attend and much of this can depend on the artist line-up presented. A mediocre line-up is unlikely to inspire someone to purchase a ticket and it is the mixed genre festivals that seem to be suffering the most. Niche genres like jazz and folk have maintained their popularity and there has been a rise** in EDM festival attendance and popularity this year and are the most likely to sell out. It is unfortunately festival genres like Hip Hop that have suffered the most despite being one of the more popular genres streamed online. There is no published research to explain this but it maybe because it doesn’t transfer well to a live event along with unrealistic artist fee demands.

Future Implications. 
Festival organisers that have a heavy reliance on ticket sales to fund their events are most at risk from rising costs, staff shortages and delayed ticket buying. Generating more revenue from vendors, sponsors and merch may provide some cash flow relief. For promoters and organisers more careful artist curation can increase ticket sales and expert financial forecasting can help determine shortfalls at an early stage. It makes sense that delayed ticket buying should be factored into cash flow forecasts with action plans to make up any shortfall.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

* Resident Advisor data shows that so far in 2022, 46% of people bought tickets within 30 days of the festival, up from 36% between 2017 and 2019.
**According to data from Resident Advisor, there are 66 percent more electronic music festivals in 2022 than 2019.

Photo by Zak Bentley via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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