If you want to play at your first festival or if you are curious to know how much do bands make at festivals, I’ve got you covered!
First, I’m going to give you an overview of what major bands really make at festivals. Then I will provide you with the details on how to calculate the band’s/artist’s asking price.
|ARTIST NAME||TYPICAL PAYMENT PER FESTIVAL||TYPE OF DEAL|
|Oasis||$1,000,000 per person||+++|
Also here are 4 more bands and their typical fees.
|ARTIST NAME||TYPICAL PAYMENT PER FESTIVAL||TYPE OF DEAL|
|Two Door Cinema Club||$70,000||Landed|
Look, there is A LOT to consider before playing at a festival, and almost all of it will influence the final asking price. So, grab a cup of coffee because you’re about to learn a lot!
Understand What Happens When a Festival Wants to Book a Band/Artist:
Note: A lot of the information presented bellow came from Rob Smith, a music industry professional with a decade-plus of experience. Credits to him.
A) The promoter of the festival contacts the desired artists’ acts via their agent.
B) It’s the job of the agent to confirm the available dates and gather information about the location. He also gathers information about the other acts that will play, the total capacity of the venue, and much more.
C) Usually, the agent has a fixed rate that they charge, which in the music biz is called “festival fee.” Based on the factor we just covered, they might adjust this fee accordingly and give the promoter a “starting price.”
Then, if up to this point, everything goes well, the promoter negotiates with the band’s agent until a deal is struck.
D) When they both have agreed on the price, the agent presents the offer to the artist/band. Now it’s up to the artist to say “yes” or “no” to that offer.
Let’s now explore the details and the factors that contribute to the final price.
How Do Bands Evaluate Festival Venues? Understand What Happens Behind the Scenes
1) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Promoter
The first thing the artist’s agent looks at is the country in which the festival takes place. The agent also looks if the country is close or if he can combine this country’s festival with a neighboring country’s festival.
The ease of access and region are also considered. The main reason the agent is so thorough about the festival’s location is because logistics are usually quite expensive!
2) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Ticket Price
Second, the agent looks at the ticket price because its the ticket price that significantly influences the artist’s asking price. Venues that charge a lot per ticket can also afford to pay a higher fee to the artist.
3) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Total Venue Capacity
Third, the agent looks at the total capacity of the venue. He will also try to determine if there are enough fans located in that particular country; having a half-empty venue is the worst feeling ever.
Of course, the ticket price and the number of people it fits gives an almost accurate estimate on how much ticket revenue they can expect. Take as an example, Coachella, with a capacity of 125.000 people and tickets selling for about $489. The total revenue will be $61.125.000, yes, that is 61 million and that for just one weekend!
4) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Festival’s Popularity
Next, the agent will look at the popularity of the festival. Big festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Woodstock are more enticing compared to small or unknown festivals.
5) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: Previous Performers
What’s also important is the previous performers. If, for example, the agent that represents Armin Van Buuren sees that last year Tiesto played there, he might now want to book the same festival.
6) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: Sponsors
Sponsors are also considered by the agent, meaning they will look at who is sponsoring the event. If the artist/band has a beef with a specific company, they wouldn’t want to be associated with them, and even more, they wouldn’t want to be sponsored by them!
You will be surprised how important this is for some artists.
7) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Organizers Connections
The agent also looks for is how well connected the organizer is. If the organizer has a lot of connections, the artist may treat this as an opportunity to establish new relationships. This is very valuable, especially if the artist is not that famous yet.
8) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: What Is the Main Act?
Something else that is essential to know is who the main act is?
And if our band is not the main act, then what time will they play?
Even at big festivals, you want to come on stage at night. It is after the sun has set that the main act (AKA the headliner) performs.
If the festival offers a big-name artist a supporting role instead of the main act position, there is a big chance they might wave the offer and not accept to perform there IF they are not listed as the main act! (Usually, this is the EGO talking).
8) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Venues Stage
Once a decision is made, if the artist/band is the main act or not, the agent turns his attention to the stage.
Concert halls and stadiums will usually have only one stage. Still, big festivals may have four or five different stages, with two or more acts playing simultaneously.
Of course, each artist wants to be on the big stage, because it’s the big stage that draws all the attention, has the most massive crowd, and most cameras.
9) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: Recording and Broadcasting Opportunities
The permission to record the show and selling it as a DVD is also an important factor. What is also good to know if the festival has live coverage (AKA broadcasting).
Broadcasting means exposure, and exposure means more fans, which ultimately needs more money!
If the venue organizer doesn’t allow the show to be broadcasted, this can significantly increase the artist’s fee.
10) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: Previous Performances
If the band has played before at the same venue, the agent may ask for a higher fee than the one they previously got.
11) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: The Full Crew
Most artists have a dedicated crew that always travels with them; their crew might include musicians, backup singers, dancers, security, photographers, videographers, backline and more. We are talking here about a lot of people and a lot of people increase the total cost.
Only the extra flights and accommodations for all these people translate into thousands of dollars. The band’s asking price should increase to cover all these expenses.
Of course, smaller bands may travel by themselves without the need for all these extras, but as a rule of thumb, the bigger the artist, the more people they bring along.
12) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: Past Chart Successes
The agent will also look at the band’s previous chart successes. If let’s say his band just released a major hit, he might use this argument to raise the prices, since popularity = money.
If let’s say Adele was asked to play at the festival right after she released her new album, her agent could undoubtedly negotiate a very high fee!
13) What Bands Consider Before the Festival Starts: Availability
The band might currently be busy with other big projects that take up most of their time, this will impact their final decision. Also, if the venue is not of the same magnitude, as their ongoing projects, they might not want to perform there.
On the other hand, if the artist hasn’t much going on at the moment, the chances of them accepting the venue’s invitation rise.
At the beginning of this article, you probably saw the column titled ” Type of deal.” I will now talk about the types of deals, bands and artists get.
The Two Types of Deals Artist/Bands Get
The agent will come with the final price once all these factors are calculated. 90% of the time, two types of deals are used, a landed deal and a plus-plus-plus deal.
1) The Landed Deal
A landed deal can be compared to a stay at an all-inclusive hotel. This deal includes everything, including the artist payment, transport cost, flight tickets, visa issues, accommodation, and much more.
2) The Plus-Plus-Plus Deal.
A Plus-Plus-Plus deal is a payment made to the artist just to secure their spot of their festival, meaning it’s just for them to show up and perform. With a plus-plus-plus deal, the promoter also has to pay for everything else, including paying for accommodation, arranging transport, paying for flights, etc.
The Biggest Festival in the World
Glastonbury is one of the biggest and most media-covered festivals in the world! They have a total capacity of 210,000 people!
Literally, EVERYONE desires to play here, but only recognized artists get invited.
When the event takes place, millions of people watch it from their homes and with a good reason. Glastonbury is the biggest broadcasted festival in the world! Wow! Just writing this gives me the goosebumps. This festival just made it on my bucket list!
It’s worth noting that Glastonbury is a nonprofit festival; therefore, all earnings are donated to charity.
The Capital Summertime Ball Festival
There are also other festivals outside the US, such as the Capital Summertime Ball in London, a mini-festival with a capacity of 80.000 people!
Because CSB is promoted and broadcast by the Capital network (one of the biggest media companies in the world), it can leverage in a unique way -using exposure!
CSB offers massive and guaranteed exposure, trough their large media network. CSB also offers guaranteed radio airplay.
Look, if you are an artist, sometimes you have to consider negotiating on a different level and not focus only on the financial aspect. You may even want to play at a venue for free if you determine that playing there is an opportunity you can profit from in the future.
What Bands and Artists Get Paid at the Coachella Festival
As we saw before, one of the price-determining factors is the line-up. If you look at a music festival poster or flyer, the big names on the top get paid much more compared to the small names on the bottom; yes, font size matters!
I know for a fact that in 2017 the Coachella festival raised $114.6 million!
Rumor has it that in 2019 Arianna Grande got $8.000.000 for performing at Coachella.
I know that Radiohead was the first headliner to get a $1.000.000 back in 2004, then Prince got $5.000.000 in 2008, and Paul McCartney got $4.000.000 in 2009.
Contrast these huge numbers with the Glastonbury festival we covered above. At Glastonbury, most artists receive much lower fees, about half what they would get at Coachella, and you even see artists play for free.
Glastonbury is a charity festival mainly for Greenpeace, Oxfam, and Wateraid. Even if artists get paid less, playing, there is uplifting for their image!
We saw what big-name artists make when playing at festivals, and we also saw how fees and prices are calculated. If you are a band/artist and you want to know what price to ask for, you can use the information I provided in this article.
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