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Balanced Curation of Established and Emerging Talent for Music Festivals

Andy Robertson

Halfway through the summer 2023 festival season and a quick look at headliners and line-ups appearing at music festivals in the UK would indicate that the same artists keep appearing as part of a regular festival circuit. Whilst this provides an element of consistency how can this be balanced with emerging talent and future festival line-ups.

Many of the mainstream long running music festivals in the UK have a tendency to announce headliners from an established circuit of performers who play the same material during their sets and could have been performing on the festival circuit for ten years of more. Some media coverage on these headliners has accused organisers of booking the same artists year after year making the line-up possibly boring and predictable. This also makes it challenging for emerging talent to get booked and may not bode well for headline acts over the next ten years or so.

Current Status.
Festival-goers are seemingly content to pay for tickets to attend a festival that books a familiar line-up safe in the knowledge that they will know the songs performed and to some extent this makes them a safe bet for organisers. Emerging talent is often restricted to a smaller stage in a remote part of the festival site or a main stage time that is less popular. Finding the right balance between curating established artists and emerging talent is challenging for festival organisers and will no doubt require more thought over the coming years as established acts age and ultimately retire.

Established Artists.
Festival curators will always attempt to book established artists because they bring with them a solid fan base often combined with great production and quality performances. This makes them a great draw for potential ticket buyers and if their discography is wide ranging and large enough a lengthy familiar set is more likely. Despite being on the festival circuit for a number of years they can still carry an iconic nostalgic connection for many festival-goers.

New Emerging Talent.
Discovering new emerging talent is not easy and artist curators will need to invest time and effort to find suitable new artists. Well produced studio music from emerging talent can make them attractive, however, this needs to be balanced with their live performance ability. Even the most talented musician and artist can fail when it comes to performing live in front of a large crowd.

Getting the Balance Right.
Anyone involved in artist curation for a music festival needs to strike the right balance between established artists and providing a platform for innovation and freshness from emerging talent. Established artists can get boring and perceived as last generation so getting in new talent is a way to secure the future of music festivals and ultimately attract the next generation of festival-goers. In addition, curation involves managing budgets between the higher fess commanded by established artists and the lower fees paid for emerging talent.

The interplay between established and emerging artists is essential to the vitality of the music festival ecosystem. Established artists bring a sense of familiarity and tradition, while emerging artists inject an element of excitement and new musical creativity.

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.

Photo by Vinícius Caricatte via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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