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The Music Festival Curation Challenge.

Andy Robertson

Artist curation for music festivals is a challenging occupation and the current economic climate is making this more difficult. In addition music tastes are changing faster than ever before and predicting popularity a year in advance remains one of the biggest challenges for artist curators.


Festival-goers often wait in anticipation every year to see the confirmed line-up for festivals they want to attend. A long running event with a good track record in presenting a great line-up can sell out before any artists are announced. For smaller and newer festivals the decision to purchase a ticket can be delayed until the full line-up is announced. Tastes in music and genre popularity are shifting constantly and the pressure on artist curators has never been greater.

Popular Large Mixed Genre Festivals. 
Curation for a long running festival can be easier as the expectation is that well known headliners will be booked. The challenge for the curation process is negotiating availability and appearance fees. However, the large mixed genre festivals tend to focus on pop music artists but they still need to identify artists rising in popularity from up-and-coming genres. Large festivals will have multiple stages that enables them to dedicate specific genres to a particular stage or zone.

Specialist Niche Festivals. 
One of the greatest growth areas for music festivals is the appearance of more specialist genre boutique events. Festival-goers can get bored with the same pop music artists and seek out new experiences and events that focus on genres they have a specific interest in. Rising in popularity are folk, jazz and rock music festivals where the curation process is easier because they only look into one genre giving curators more time to find new up-and-coming talent.

What’s Trending in 2023? 
Pop music remains the mainstay of the large music festival along with electronic dance music in part driven by being great in live environments. Despite hip-hop and rap genres being popular online downloads, they are fading away in popularity as a live genre. Even being cited as a boring genre by some well-known rappers and hip-hop artists who are now playing afrobeat and soul music. Rising in popularity are comeback genres, particularly jazz, blues, funky disco, soul plus metal and punk rock. Whilst these trends are taking place in Europe and North America in Asia the gansta rap genre is bizarrely gaining popularity as artists find new audiences. Artist curators should look to the grass roots of live music in Europe and North America for trends, whilst the live music and festival scene rises in popularity in Asia their genre choice is still a few decades behind and so remains popular for artists who are experiencing a decline in their popularity at home.

Artist curators are going to have to work harder to find the right balance of artists for music festivals in 2023. Artist fees are rising and festival budgets are falling which may require curating more up and coming talent who are less expensive but unknown. 

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 including a dedicated artist management module. 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.

Photo by Brett Sayles via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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