The Festival Death 2023! 

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

A week ago, we just saw that Live Nation in Sweden just put down one of their flagships “Summerburst”. It’s very interesting since just a couple of days before that they actually released a new headliner. The reason for Live Nation was that they were to focus on other festivals so they choose to put “Summerburst” down.

You can easily read here that the ticket sales can’t have been any good. They tried with a last name and when that didn’t make the needle move they just put it down. Fair to say “Summerburst” was an EDM festival that went really well when it started in 2011 and at its top peeking was 2015 with 50 000 visitors. I guess for me 2015 was the year when EDM died. When Avicii left the whole scene was more or less over. Like Punk is not dead but it should be, this is the same story with EDM, it just kept on as well but should have been put to rest.

This year they cut out having the festival in two cities and just focused on one, and even that didn’t work out. I really would love to see those numbers, that would be shining proof of how out EDM is right now.

Next funny thing is that so what would Live Nation then focus on? I checked their other flagship Lollapalooza in Stockholm. The lineup was around the same lineup that my local commercial festival had. To be honest the local festival had actually better. They can’t spend a lot of money on that lineup, so saying that they focus on their other festivals is just a scapegoat. They are going for cheap artists just to survive and be able to survive.

Is Live Nation done? No, they are smart and acted on time. What we see is the start of the festival death. Last year most festivals survived on tickets that were sold before the pandemic, on top of those new tickets and substitutions from the governments. This year they don’t have that backup and the artist prices are insane. The artist is trying to get back money they lost on everything else like the pandemic and falling streams and just skyrocketing prices. There are some festivals that still try to get those big names. But with an audience that probably will buy their tickets at the last minute, since that is a pattern, we learned during the pandemic, it will be hard for the festivals to pay the upfront fees, also hard to calculate how many people are actually coming. And with that, it will be harder even if they sell tickets at the last minute since they need more vendors, security, and other things that will eat up any of the profit of the late sales.

Another problem is the economic crisis we are in. People don’t have the money to spend. I saw at a Swedish festival announcing their three days tickets at the same cost to fly down to Spain and have a summer holiday you know they will have a hard time surviving. No kid has that kind of money. And now their parents just canceled their Spain holiday, well they won’t spend it on a lousy festival with some half-boring Swedish acts that take too much money to book.

If you have a festival that has been going for years and years and an audience that buys tickets for the experience you will be fine. The other will go bust if they try to be on this hype. My guess is that people will start looking for smaller cheaper festivals. Those festivals that then can have a great but cheap lineup will be the next festival that will come out of the festival death of 2023.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes which is about to launch the newest edition in Canada in 2024, Future Echoes Toronto. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the legendary Record World International and also sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian-based charity, The Drive Foundation.