It’s no news to anyone that British festivals are big business. Potentially the biggest business in live music- certainly when it comes to Europe and Asia.
Up until this month, though, the value large scale music events add to the overall economy has never been much of a talking point (although the figures were out there for anyone to find). Now it has been revealed that so-called ‘music tourism’ added a staggering Â£3.1billion to the country’s earnings in 2014 alone; a 34% increase when compared with 2011, with 9.5million people travelling to an event last year.
In addition to domestic fans, there has been a 39% rise in the number of foreign visitors arriving for music events in the last four years alone, and more and more are flocking here- a staggering 546,000 (or thereabouts) came in 2014. All of whom spent, on average, Â£751 each whilst making the most of their tickets. So, why are people coming here, and is this boost sustainable in the long run?
Of course, in many ways both questions are impossible to answer without some room for assumption and error being factored in. On the one hand, Britain is the second most important, powerful and influential musical territory in the world- certainly in terms of popular sounds- and has been for well over half a century now. Understandably, then, that heritage, and the reputation for throwing a good party (established first with Merseybeat, then Northern Soul, before Punk, New Wave, acid house, rave and so on) is certainly going to be appealing to people from outside our borders.
Secondly, in terms of longevity, the live music scene in our country, and in particular festivals, has been growing for far longer than the decline in recorded music. As live events become more popular, and artists become more dependent on live music for revenue, and so it stands to reason the boom will continue. By comparison, it’s open to some speculation, and most likely opinion, whether or not people are getting value for money from this already-big and (seemingly perpetually) burgeoning area of the scene, and as such rather than attempt to answer that we’ll leave this on a positive note.
Image credit: Love Saves The Day in Bristol (C) Theo Cottle & Khris Cowley / Here & Now
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