IOW boss John Giddings speaks to eFestivals

ticket touting, headliners, celebrating a decade, and more

published: Mon 22nd Nov 2010

John Giddings

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£175 weekend with camping - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Wed 8th Jun 2011

eFestivals got the chance to speak with John Giddings, festival organiser of the Isle Of Wight Festival about last week's announcements, and his plans for next summer's festival.

John Giddings
Hi John. Are you pleased with the headlining acts you've announced?
You're joking, for the tenth anniversary we've got the cream of the crop, haven't we?! I'm very, very pleased.

Anything else up your sleeve to celebrate the decade?
Apart from getting the three biggest rock bands around, and the best returning band from the nineties, I haven't planned further than that, apart from announcing selling the tickets. We're going to expand the site because last year we had the 'Field Of Dreams' and there's no World Cup this year. We will come up with something exciting and interesting for that.

What you have to do is provide more entertainment for people. We don't need anymore bands we've got sixty bands in total over the weekend, and people always complain it's hard enough seeing bands on the Big Top stage and the main stage, let alone having to worry about a third major stage. We already have the acoustic stage as well where people make surprise appearances.

There's no Festival First this year, but will there still be entertainment for campers on the Thursday?
There will be a campers night on Thursday, usually 25,000 people have arrived by Thursday lunchtime so we're obligated to provide some form of entertainment for them, and it's always good fun it's party night with the ladies. We don't have to be so responsible as if we've got the main stage running.

With such a rock heavy set of headliners will you follow up with a more rock orientated undercard?
No, it'll be a combination of old groups, new groups, pop groups, and lots of different things, lots of entertainment for different people at different times, it can't be all one genre. But, what I wanted was people that will tear the place apart at 10 o'clock at night in the main field. I think I've achieved that with Kings Of Leon, Kasabian, and Foo Fighters.

The Foo Fighters were fantastic last time.
Yes, exactly.

What about away from the acts, will there be a theme to the festival for this the 10th Anniversary?
Possibly, I thinking of doing it like Mad Men, you've got to come dressed as someone from Mad Men, you've got to wear a pork pie hat, we'll have meetings where you pour a glass of whiskey, light up a cigarette and then start talking, my idea of heaven, all the women wear huge bras, or Spartacus with a blood and sand theme.

How long have you had the headliners booked for?
Probably for about a month, earlier than usual, with the Foo's and Kings Of Leon we've got an exclusive festival appearance from each of them, they're also doing their own shows, and not doing any other English festivals, they might do a Scottish or Irish festival, and Kasabian is an exclusive UK appearance, because they'll probably do some dates of their own later in the year, but they wanted to do something to launch the campaign. They'd been to the Isle Of Wight before and liked it. I'm good friends with them I put them on some shows with U2 throughout Europe, and it just seemed the natural thing to do. I wanted someone that was going to close the show with a bang.

Do you foresee tickets selling out faster this year?
Everybody tells me the demand will be incredible, I'm just pleased to sell them, we've sold out every year since 2004. It doesn't matter if your last ticket is sold the day before you start, as long as you've got enough money to pay the groups and all the other things, security, police, etc.

You had tickets available of pre-sale, what's your take on the fact that so many of them appeared on secondary selling sites within half an hour of pre-sale opening?
I didn't know they had, that's interesting because the pre-sale site collapsed within minutes of them going on sale. Sadly for us, the internet has created a whole new level of ticket touting that has never existed before, where the general public can become their own ticket touts. (John Giddings calls up a well known secondary ticket selling site). Seaclose Park, £271, anyone who pays that much for a ticket is stupid. That's a hundred pounds more than the ticket price, you've got to be fool.

Sadly for us, the government has only restricted it in football, and not in music, and until they do the temptation is for human beings to steal from other human beings. Listen, I'd love to be able to sell my tickets for £271 I think it's slightly unfair. You know, if you buy a house or a car, you can re-sell it the next day for more money, and there's no law in England which stops you doing that with a ticket. So, until there's a law against it then what can I say, perhaps it means my tickets are on sale too cheaply.

But unlike cars and houses I feel tickets should only be re-sold at face value.
I could not agree more, I could not agree more. My one comment is they're all bastards!

Back to the festival, you've got four big names is there anybody you'd still like to bring to the Isle Of Wight to headline?
The dream band would be Pink Floyd, but I think you'd have to go a long way to achieve that, Oasis when they re-form, and Stone Roses.

What's been the best thing about the last decade of Isle Of Wight festivals for you?
Going to the Isle Of Wight and seeing 60,000 people in a field enjoying themselves. I don't think many people can claim to have that as a hobby. It doesn't matter who the group is, as long as the audience are enjoying themselves, I love it.

And what's been the worst thing about the last decade?
That's a difficult one. I'm trying to think of something bad that's happened, it's never rained, touch wood. Even when Morrissey pulled out with two weeks notice, I didn't really car I got Travis instead and they were better. Touch wood, I can't think of anything bad that's happened, well I lost £500,000 in 2003, I suppose you could complain about that, but it's called investing in the future.

What do you think has changed most in the last decade?
It just becomes more efficient, we've had to become more aware of health and safety, security, and in some ways you have to protect an audience from themselves, and there's always a surprise. You get more experienced every year, and you just have to be very careful and remember you are dealing with that many people in a field.

Do you think it will change much over the next decade?
Not much, as long as there are good groups. I think people enjoy festivals because it's one of the few things you can go to and talk to a stranger because you've got a shared experience, because you've both got a love of music.

There's the whole 3D thing moving into the media at the moment, can you see a potential for 3D at music festivals?
As long as people pay for it, it tends to be a bit of a novelty. Do you watch many 3D programmes? It's hard enough watching television let alone watching it in 3D. 3D should be left to films like Avatar. Do I really want Coronation Street in 3D? Television is good, but nothing beats the experience of being there, because being there is in 3D on television it's always going to be 2 dimensional. The trouble is you don't get the right sound, or the right experience through television. Someone can sing a bum note and 60,000 people won't notice, on television they'll notice a lot more. On television you see all the warts and pimples.

The usual legendary act on Sunday afternoon have you had any thoughts about that?
Not really, not really. I think I might have a legend in the Big Top on the Saturday night, but we will see. It depends what you would call a legend. For Sunday, I would think about getting The Moody Blues, or Jethro Tull, I don't know I'm thinking about it.

Away from organising the music, what the burning issues for those running music events at present?
Keeping the police bills down. It's the cost, the cost, VAT and PRS, and all that stuff the punters don't care about. PRS and VAT changes on January 1st which might explain why a lot of people are going on sale before Christmas.

You're also the global agent and promoter for F1 Rocks...
That's right yes, I booked the Chemical Brothers in Brazil, the Stereophonics in Monza, Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas in Singapore, they were groovy. I love Formula 1, they know how to spend money.

What did you think of this season's climactic race?
I thought it was incredible. I wanted anyone to win except Alonso.

You're also a promoter and agent, any big acts due to take the road by storm next summer?
Nothing I can talk about at this moment at time, but we have plans underway for some big tours.

What advice would you give someone going to the IOW for the first time next year?
Be prepared for all types of weather, sun tan lotion, something for covering up, and just be careful and considerate of other people. Come and enjoy yourself but look after yourself, and don't mess up other people's enjoyment. Come and enjoy it.

Tickets are selling out fast for the tenth anniversary Isle of Wight Festival which happens from Friday 10th until Sunday 12th June 2011 at Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight.

Tickets are priced at £175 for adult camping, and £87.50 for a child ticket (aged 7 to 12 years). The price of an adult ticket without camping is £150 and £75 for children (aged 7 to 12 years). All children 6 years old and under on 10th June 2011 can go for free but must still have a ticket. A campervan permit is priced at £250 (all occupiers must also have a valid camping ticket).

To buy tickets from Gigantic, click here.

To buy tickets from Ticketline, click here.

All Special Needs customers should call Ticket Zone on 0844 499 9955 to purchase tickets. If you are registered disabled your carer is entitled to a free ticket, you need to make Ticket Zone aware of this when you make your purchase.

Kings of Leon will headline Friday, Pulp join Foo Fighters on Saturday, with Kasabian closing Sunday night, and 'The British Pink Floyd Show' are also confirmed for the festival which has a large main stage in a natural amphitheatre that showcases well known rock and indie names, a legendary act or two, and rising stars, in a relaxed festival atmosphere.
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£175 weekend with camping - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Wed 8th Jun 2011

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