Geoff Ellis exclusive eFestivals interview

T in The Park organiser talks about this summer's event

published: Mon 27th Feb 2012

around the festival site

Friday 6th to Sunday 8th July 2012
Balado, nr Kinross. Scotland, KY13 0NJ, Scotland MAP
£199 full weekend with Thursday camping
daily capacity: 85000
last updated: Thu 15th Nov 2012

eFestivals interviewed T in the Park organiser Geoff Ellis last week as the main line-up announcement was made ahead of tickets going on sale this Wednesday, 29th February.

I suppose you've been doing the whole media thing for a few hours now.
Yes, I did a few yesterday as well. It's good it's better than doing the usual press conference things. It means you talk to people individually and you get people to ask specific questions about what they want to know.

How long have you had the headliners booked for?
Quite a while. The Stone Roses we announced quite a while ago, so they were the first one we booked. The thing about a festival line-up is that it's constantly evolving anyway. You're always adding people, we had Elbow locked in quite early on, and Tinie Tempah quite early on. The Vaccines were one of the first that we locked in.

Have you found it easy to keep the line-up under wraps?
We've done quite well. You always worry that the bands are going to say something, and there's always rumours out there.There's not that many potential headliners about, there's only around ten or twelve acts big UK acts enough.

Do you think that's a worry for the industry?
It's a reality, you could say there's not many big acts around, but there's a lot of established acts that are still selling a lot of records and tickets like Coldplay, Kings of Leon, The Killers, etc.

But there's not many new outside of the pop market that have become big. But, from a fstival point of view, T in the Park, is always all about what other acts we have as well as the headliners. We've got Tinie Tempah, Chase & Status, The Vaccines, Professor Green, New Order, Skrillex, Labrinth, Band Of Skulls who will have a top ten album this week, and Emeli Sande who's number one at the moment. I think there's a hell of a lot of artists who make up the festival, so you're not just relying on your headliners.

But, I think Snow Patrol are a fantastic live act, and they're current as well with a new album out. Kasabian have always been popular when they played. Last time in 2010 they had the biggest crowd of the weekend, so people definitely wanted to see them. In terms of the polls that we do every year, both of those acts feature very highly as do Killer, and Kings Of Leon.

The big news this year is going to be The Stone Roses. I think any festival worldwide would have loved to have The Stone Roses play, and it's something that we've wanted to happen for years, and this year it finally happens. For me, am I worried that there aren't that many suitable headline acts around? If we weren't able to book them then maybe, but we are. But, it's more making sure that we have lots of new bands coming through that we can get. Getting Labrinth, Skrillex, and Two Door Cinema Club, all those acts, that's reassuring.

You've increased the Friday entertainment, will the line-up underneath reflect the day ticket price?
Yes, Florence + The Machine are playing on the Friday. Tinie Tempah is headlining the Radio 1/NME Stage, New Order headlining the King Tuts Tent means the Friday's line-up is very strong. The Friday is just as important to programme as the Saturday or Sunday.

There's less hours on a Friday, so there's always going to be less smaller acts on Friday, but it's still important to have a good line-up.

A lot of our audience, around 30,000 turn up on Thursday, there's nowhere else in Scotland where 30,000 people gather when there's not even any bands playing.

You've got quite a weighting of old Manchester scene bands is that just because The Stone Roses are headlining?
No, it's probably a coincidence more than anything. Obviously Noel's touring with his High Flying Birds and its important to havethem this year. New Order happen to back this year, and they're headlining Bestival and we wanted them at T in The Park in the King Tut tent. Then there's the Happy Mondays, I think it adds a bit more validity to have them and The Stone Roses.

One thing to consider is the huge pivotal role they played bringing dance music to a much wider audience, and to fans of guitar music.

The Stone Roses also played a big part in that, and New Order had the Hacienda which techno and dance music originated in. Brought from Chicago house came to the UK through the Hacienda, and the dance music explosion of the 90s all originated from the Hacienda. If New Order hadn't opended the Hacienda, then that wouldn't have happened. If New Order weren't making that bridge between guitar music and dance music, then we wouldn't be where we are today.

If you look at acts like Tinie Tempah, would he have the kind of chart success he has now if it wasn't for the Happy Mondays. He may have still been a big urban artist but he may not have crossed over to the main stream to the same degree.

The role the New Order, The Stone Roses, and Happy Mondays have played in bringing electronic, and dance music into the mainstream, and making it accessible to guitar music fans has been huge.

The annual question to ask you has to be, how long do you think it will be until tickets sell out when they go on sale on Wednesday?
Traditionally, over the last few years, they have sold out within a few hours of having gone on sale. We've already sold 50% of the tickets in the presale at Christmas and back last July. I would expect them to sell out very quickly, but obviously we're in very difficult economic times, and we're conscious that most of our audience aren't exactly flushed with money.

Even, in better economic times, value for money has always been a key thing for our audience, whether there's a recession on or not. If you look at ticket price and divide that by the number of bands, it's certainly less than a £1 per artist, and you pay almost that to download something off iTunes, so from that point of view it's the ultimate playlist. Music festivals in general are like that, and T in the Park in particular I think, and from that point of view I think tickets will sell fast, as people will see it as value for money.

The cashless system has been making some waves in the news at present, chipped wristbands, do you think they will be appearing at T?
They won't this year. We're working some of the people who produce RFID technology, and talking to a couple of different people. We think that's the way to go for outdoor shows, and cashless uses the same technology, the RFID chips. In the long term I can see it, but in the short term I don't think audiences would be happy going cashless immeadiately. I think it needs a bit more of a gradual introduction, but I can see the benefits of it. If your wristband becomes your ticket, and because if you buy your festival T-shirt, and because you're at T in the Park your grilled smoked salmon, or pasta, or fish & chips, whatever you want by showing your wristband, have it swipped, and away you go. It will make it so much more convenient, and I can see it happening. We won't be going cashless this year, but in the future I think it's a certainly an option.

But it's important what the public wants, if we see more pressure from our fans wanting it then we'll move quicker on it.

eFestivals then spoke to Geoff about the Dispatches programme on the ticket scandal which you can read (here). Where when asked if T in the Park gave tickets to the secondary market, he replied, "We don't, there's always T in the Park tickets on the secondary market. But we do monitor the prices, and we've not seen massive prices on the secondary market. That's maybe because we've got a small population of 5 million people and we're selling 85,000. Maybe there's not thousands of people all looking for one ticket. But, what we do see every year is people being ripped off by buying tickets on internet auction sites and the tickets not existing."

The final batch of tickets for T in the Park 2012 will go on general on sale at 9am this Wednesday (29th February) and eFestivals will have links to buy them then.

Tickets for T in the Park 2012 will be priced as follows:

A full weekend camping ticket (Fri-Sun arena access) £189
A full weekend with Thursday camping (Thurs - Sun) £199
A weekend (Fri-Sun) with no camping £179
A Saturday or Sunday day ticket £77.50
Friday only £70

No under 5s. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult 21+ with a full priced ticket.

The nineteenth T in the Park will be back at Balado, Scotland on Friday 6th to Sunday 8th July.
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 6th to Sunday 8th July 2012
Balado, nr Kinross. Scotland, KY13 0NJ, Scotland MAP
£199 full weekend with Thursday camping
daily capacity: 85000
last updated: Thu 15th Nov 2012

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