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Jimpsnl

Is the end of Boomtown near?

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The hype for Boomtown seems to be starting to die somewhat. So many people not returning this year.

ticket sales seem slower then before also, if you check the website there are still a lot of tickets left, not just coach and general tickets but also for skylark, tangerine, springs etc etc... I assume these would count as a loss if Boomtown does not sell them.

in all my years of attending, it does seem that things are a lot slower this year, what seems more bizarre is that this is probably their strongest line up for a very long time.

Glasto is back so perhaps that’s the reason but... I don’t know, is the end of boom on its way or am I just jumping to conclusions?

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Personally I went in 2015-2017, and over those 3 years, the festival was in decline for me. I know that nothing will ever beat your 1st Boomtown, as you gaze in awe at the whole place, but to me the magic was lost the 2nd/3rd times.

That along with the massive increase in ticket costs over the years, the over zealous security, strict alcohol restrictions, poor sound quality, amount of ket heads and various other reasons is why I don't plan to attend this year.

I've got friends who have been to the last 6 or 7, that group grew yearly as most camps do for festivals when it's a community thing (most met on here btw) and last year the numbers dropped out of our lot by loads. I'd estimate our tent camp was around 30 people at peak, and the live in camp about 10-15 at same point.

This year I think the numbers are under 10 for both camps combined, a drastic reduction in our group alone that are not going and probably won't again.

 

Yes, to me the death of Boomtown won't be far off.... 

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The price hikes may have affected it, £270 for a festival is steep even if the acts are the size of Muse or Metallica etc* let alone The Streets and Slaves but the cheaper tier tixs are already all sold out and a lot of the glamping stuff is sold out too.

*Yes the money goes into the sets before anyone mentions it.

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2012 was my first boomtown, 2016 was my last. In my opinion every year I went it got a little worse, I can't quite put my finger on it but it seems a pretty different festival to when I first went. I think it has got too big for its own good. The crowd has changed massively and the general vibe of the place seemed to have shifted a lot through the years. The first few years were quite desolate  and incredibly lawless and alternative. The place felt totally detached from the real world and there was a real edge/element of danger to the whole thing which was quite simply incendiary. I'm sure some people feel like it still gives off that vibe but it is all far more managed and controlled now, for better or worse. 

When I first started going it was totally inconceivable that they would book a lot of acts that played mainstream festivals, let alone ones that headlined Glastonbury (Gorillaz). Also, the BBC Radio 1 Xtra involvement this year is completely against the original vibe and point of Boomtown. You could argue that both those points are an attempt, and reaction to,  how much the festival has grown but the fact remains that the identity of the festival has changed lots. I think it's the same as when people on the Glastonbury forum say how the festival was better before they put up the fence etc, 

Again like you guys have said, we all stopped going a few years ago. Used to be a group of about 20-30 of us that went and now it's only 5 at the most. 

Also its really fucking expensive now, think it was £110 the first year I went. I understand the price has risen in correlation to the festival itself and acts they are booking but £250+ is far too much.

Edited by Guy Incognito

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I went 2010 - 2014.  (65 quid first time, prob still my favourite. Toots in the tiny town centre was f'ing brilliant)

The reason we all knocked it on the head was the security and police presence. What is supposed to be a chilled weekend off from the world becomes a ridiculous game of cat and mouse, which just isn't what anyone needs at all. (not sure when the strict booze rules came into play)

There's also a point, where you realise you're paying ever increasing costs to watch most of the same bands from an ever increasing distance. 

That and the fact that I paid to see Barrington Levy 3 times, and always ended up watching GDC or the skints as he'd not shown up again. (no disrespect to either of those decent bands - but it's the like of Levy that make you think it's worth tolerating the downsides)

Shame really, cos in lots of ways it was the best festival about....

Edited by man next door

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Okay re: the question Is the end of Boomtown near?

Price is going up but this is proportional to the cost of the festival and the anticipated amount of ticket sales. There will be lots of forward planning at Boom town HQ to make sure it doesn't go under and it would take something catastrophic to rock the boat that much.

Sure Glastonbury is big competition for Boom town, but Glastonbury is sold out. Where are the festival laypeople going to go for their hedonistic summer time pursuits? Here we have two types of laypeople the Reading Graduates and undergraduates. First festival ever? please see Reading.  Reading graduate?  you'll probably be more open to alternatives. Hence we have a lot of people gravitating to Boomtown.  Moreover Glastonbury's audience is a lot older than Boom's. A lot of my (young) friends don't even know who The Cure are and think Stormzy sucks (Lol yh grime is 4 kidz and a ---> thinking booking SMILING EMOJI) so have no interest in the Glastonbury or it's chin stroke allure. 

Boomtown's musical repertoire is probably way off course from its inception but this is deliberate, young people like getting fucked up on pingers and ket to fast and repetitive beats, so boomtown (indirectly) sells its tickets by providing the opportunity to do this.

Over zealous security? More like lazy horses not being woken up by a hordes of pilled up wasps. Compared to most festivals Boomtown's security is inadequate. Sure they check you on the way in but that's standard at most festivals. Also Boomtown is one of very few large festivals with nothing separating arena and camping. This is all surplus to the point, festivals are dangerous places. Security is a blessing and keep us safe.

I guess repeat attendance is one big ticket seller for Boom-town and yes if you do the same thing over and over it can get boring. That said Boomtown is constantly changing and at a rapid rate. Last year we had the new Punk area opening up ticket revenue from punks. This year we have more techno than ever before opening up ticket revenue from even more people.

Also consider Boomtown in the context of other british dance festivals main competitors include creamfields, WeAreFSTVL, SW4 and elrow. Elrow is the only real competitor with boom here. The others are glitter fests.

TL;DR - No Boomtown isn't dying

 

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I have been to 7 of the last 8 and whilst it has changed from the early days when I could only be a dealer or a copper because I was not 12, it is growing and evolving not dying.  The demographic has changed and the offer has changed to be more immersive and better balanced.  The security is fine, when you consider the safety aspects and the deaths early on, they had to be seen to mitigate against any further harm to the punters.

Groups change and as people go a number of times it could get samey for some, they move on and others take their place.  Last year sold early because of the fallow year but this year is more normal, it tends to sell out around June-ish from memory. As long as it keeps evolving it will survive, there isn't much the same on the circuit or much with the same feel.  You get what you pay for.

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I'm a relative newcomer but numbers seem to be strong to me. 

There balance sheet can't be too bad if they're investing in so many new stages. That would surely be easy to save money on if they needed to - and changing so many stages in one year seems beyond what they need to do in order to follow the new story arc.

I think there's always going to be a churn of regulars choosing something else as well as an influx of first timers, just like most other festivals.

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42 minutes ago, Tommy101 said:

and changing so many stages in one year seems beyond what they need to do in order to follow the new story arc

they've got to have something to do during the off-season. :P 

In all seriousness, aren't the stage changes just* a slightly different scaffold build, and repainted facias? I wouldn't have thought there's that much extra expense to them.

(* I say 'just'. I know they're impressive, and no doubt complicated)

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10 minutes ago, eFestivals said:

they've got to have something to do during the off-season. :P 

In all seriousness, aren't the stage changes just* a slightly different scaffold build, and repainted facias? I wouldn't have thought there's that much extra expense to them.

(* I say 'just'. I know they're impressive, and no doubt complicated)

I get than in the grand scheme of things it's not vast amounts of money, but if the end of Boomtown was near for financial reasons I'm sure they wouldn't be doing 8 new stages in one year. They could just do one or two that reflected the story line change of direction. 

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On 4/4/2019 at 1:42 PM, Radi0Head said:

Okay re: the question Is the end of Boomtown near?

Price is going up but this is proportional to the cost of the festival and the anticipated amount of ticket sales. There will be lots of forward planning at Boom town HQ to make sure it doesn't go under and it would take something catastrophic to rock the boat that much.

Sure Glastonbury is big competition for Boom town, but Glastonbury is sold out. Where are the festival laypeople going to go for their hedonistic summer time pursuits? Here we have two types of laypeople the Reading Graduates and undergraduates. First festival ever? please see Reading.  Reading graduate?  you'll probably be more open to alternatives. Hence we have a lot of people gravitating to Boomtown.  Moreover Glastonbury's audience is a lot older than Boom's. A lot of my (young) friends don't even know who The Cure are and think Stormzy sucks (Lol yh grime is 4 kidz and a ---> thinking booking SMILING EMOJI) so have no interest in the Glastonbury or it's chin stroke allure. 

Boomtown's musical repertoire is probably way off course from its inception but this is deliberate, young people like getting fucked up on pingers and ket to fast and repetitive beats, so boomtown (indirectly) sells its tickets by providing the opportunity to do this.

Over zealous security? More like lazy horses not being woken up by a hordes of pilled up wasps. Compared to most festivals Boomtown's security is inadequate. Sure they check you on the way in but that's standard at most festivals. Also Boomtown is one of very few large festivals with nothing separating arena and camping. This is all surplus to the point, festivals are dangerous places. Security is a blessing and keep us safe.

I guess repeat attendance is one big ticket seller for Boom-town and yes if you do the same thing over and over it can get boring. That said Boomtown is constantly changing and at a rapid rate. Last year we had the new Punk area opening up ticket revenue from punks. This year we have more techno than ever before opening up ticket revenue from even more people.

Also consider Boomtown in the context of other british dance festivals main competitors include creamfields, WeAreFSTVL, SW4 and elrow. Elrow is the only real competitor with boom here. The others are glitter fests.

TL;DR - No Boomtown isn't dying

 

BBC radio involvement. Yet another step towards commercialisation.

On another note it does seem Boom is doing its utmost to become Glasto 2.0 with gorillaz bookings, Wednesday entries and so on.

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38 minutes ago, eFestivals said:

they've got to have something to do during the off-season. :P 

In all seriousness, aren't the stage changes just* a slightly different scaffold build, and repainted facias? I wouldn't have thought there's that much extra expense to them.

(* I say 'just'. I know they're impressive, and no doubt complicated)

I get your point but they're not just hiring general handyman labourers to do it, they are hiring prop makers, set builders etc who aren't as cheap as you would expect.

Maybe now is probably the best time to do multiple stage upgrades as I know a few people who specialise in that industry and are all complaining there's less work at the moment. Apparently (I'm just repeating what's been told to me) the Fox-Disney deal has put a few UK filmed movies on hold, those fancy upmarket shop displays aren't being ordered atm due to concerns of Brexit etc so they might be getting the work done for cheaper. 

Edited by jump

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2 minutes ago, jump said:

Maybe now is probably the best time to do multiple stage upgrades as I know a few people who specialise in that industry and are all complaining there's less work at the moment. Apparently (I'm just repeating what's been told to me) the Fox-Disney deal has put a few UK filmed movies on hold, those fancy upmarket shop displays aren't being ordered atm due to concerns of Brexit etc so they might be getting the work done for cheaper. 

That's an interesting point.

It all seems the polar opposite of when Bestival was still struggling on the island and their production really suffered.

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1 hour ago, Tommy101 said:

I get than in the grand scheme of things it's not vast amounts of money, but if the end of Boomtown was near for financial reasons I'm sure they wouldn't be doing 8 new stages in one year. They could just do one or two that reflected the story line change of direction. 

It's difficult to use that as a benchmark either way - one of the major problems festivals have is that they mostly need to set a budget and commit to spending before they know for certain that the money is coming in.

That's arguably what did for Bestival in 2016 and started their problems - by the time they realised they were only going to sell 35,000 out of the 60,000 tickets, most of the money was already spent or earmarked. So when they tried to scale back a bit they could only save so much, and what they did do had a much more noticeable effect than it would have if they'd budgeted for 35,000 to start with. As a result they got hit from both sides - customers were disappointed with things not being up to expectations, and they still lost a shitload of cash.

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1 hour ago, incident said:

It's difficult to use that as a benchmark either way - one of the major problems festivals have is that they mostly need to set a budget and commit to spending before they know for certain that the money is coming in.

That's arguably what did for Bestival in 2016 and started their problems - by the time they realised they were only going to sell 35,000 out of the 60,000 tickets, most of the money was already spent or earmarked. So when they tried to scale back a bit they could only save so much, and what they did do had a much more noticeable effect than it would have if they'd budgeted for 35,000 to start with. As a result they got hit from both sides - customers were disappointed with things not being up to expectations, and they still lost a shitload of cash.

Boomtown actually encountered similar problems last year. They expected to be granted 80,000 capacity, and tickets were flying off the shelf at record pace. Things seemed good.

Then they didn't get the capacity increase, had overspent, and things looked pretty bleak. They took the remaining tickets off sale in Feb 2018 ("sold out"), and repriced them as "Boomtown Springs" to balance the books. It does conflict with the ethos of Boomtown a little. But was seen as a necessary evil in order to be able to put the event on, without doing an overly noticeable "scaling back", ala Bestival mentioned above.

On 4/4/2019 at 4:42 AM, Jimpsnl said:

ticket sales seem slower then before also, if you check the website there are still a lot of tickets left, not just coach and general tickets but also for skylark, tangerine, springs etc etc... I assume these would count as a loss if Boomtown does not sell them.

Behind the scenes, ticket sales are strong this year, and still on course for a sell out as far as I'm aware. Almost the full allocation of 20k Wednesday tickets have been snapped up too, which has been a bonus windfall. They didn't manage to fully sell the 16k which were avaliable last year. They have also doubled the number of campervan passes avaliable, and they've all sold out too.

So I wouldn't worry about slow ticket sales, things seem to be going to plan in that regard as well. They have even applied for a premise license alteration ready for 2020, with a view to trying for a capacity increase again. So they are obviously not worried about slow ticket sales in the near future.

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1 hour ago, Sku said:

Boomtown actually encountered similar problems last year. They expected to be granted 80,000 capacity, and tickets were flying off the shelf at record pace. Things seemed good.

Then they didn't get the capacity increase, had overspent, and things looked pretty bleak. They took the remaining tickets off sale in Feb 2018 ("sold out"), and repriced them as "Boomtown Springs" to balance the books. It does conflict with the ethos of Boomtown a little. But was seen as a necessary evil in order to be able to put the event on, without doing an overly noticeable "scaling back", ala Bestival mentioned above.

It all could have gone very tits up for Boomtown after that capacity increase was refused. They should definitely be commended for managing to overcome that issue

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I did wonder if last year really did sell out. It was my first boomtown & it never felt full. 

I loved it though & I can't wait for August.

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5 minutes ago, FuzzyDunlop said:

I did wonder if last year really did sell out. It was my first boomtown & it never felt full. 

 The site plan wasn't majorly amended after the rejection, apart from ditching a couple of car parks. The way the festival was laid out and configured could have taken the full 80k.

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9 minutes ago, Sku said:

 The site plan wasn't majorly amended after the rejection, apart from ditching a couple of car parks. The way the festival was laid out and configured could have taken the full 80k.

Ah. Thanks for that. It makes sense.

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18 hours ago, Jimpsnl said:

BBC radio involvement. Yet another step towards commercialisation.

On another note it does seem Boom is doing its utmost to become Glasto 2.0 with gorillaz bookings, Wednesday entries and so on.

I was surprised by the BBC being involved at Boomtown this year but I'm not convinced it's a bad thing.  Sure, it's definitely an indicator of commercialisation but it could do the festival some good.

There's a good chance Glastonbury may not exist today if it wasn't for the BBC.   The coverage allows them to book acts that they couldn't otherwise afford to and it has massively improved the reputation the general public have of the festival.  Pre BBC, everyone that didn't go could only speculate about the debauchery was going on inside the fence and now it's all wrapped up in nice clean production that your mum and your nan want to watch*, the perception of it has changed.

In some ways that's comparable to Boomtown - those outside the fence think it's a massive drug rave** - so some mainstream coverage might help it improve it's reputation and book bigger acts cheaper.

* They don't show much from the SE corner night time crowd.
**OK, I know it is but we can pretend it's not!

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I don't know if anyone else has listened to it or not, but Boomtowns head of music was on the Rob Da Bank podcast this week, and was talking about expansion in such a way that it felt less like a desire and almost something they see as a necessity.

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BBC involvement isn’t a negative simply because it’s the BBC. Corporate interest isn’t necessarily a negative. I agree with comments made by Stu_Kent.

if anything BBC will helps raise the profile of the festival helping them bring in more revenue which in turn will help them improve the festival.

Change is inevitable and if that change means growing as a festival in size and scope  (e.g. booking an act like gorillaz) this isn’t inherently a negative. Sure some growth is bad but we can choose to be a part of it. 

Suggesting something is dying because it’s getting bigger or booking more well known acts resulting in a loss of some ‘illusion of romanticism’ seems wrong to me.

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Also Glastonbury 2.0 I see as a good thing the G needs some decent competition all the big festivals are trash tier in every category except for the music they book.

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