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Sawdusty Surfer

Future of festivals...

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I remember a few years ago the Association of Festival Organisers (a sort of trade body) commissioned a survey on the competition to music festivals.  Most people had assumed it was other festivals (do you go to Reading or Glastonbury?) etc.  But they found that the main alternative was cheap foreign package holidays (do you go to a festival possibly in a muddy field or have a week in the sun in Ibiza?)

Given the constraints about flying for the forseeable future I think I'd feel safer in a festival field than on a package flight.

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I fear a large scale wipe out of "The Arts" with many places/events not surviving. But on a brighter note new things will emerge from the embers of C-19 it will be a slow process but eventually things will get back to what we know as normal and actually end up better. People will realise what they had and took for granted. Midweek etc will pick up as we value the things we have lost.

It will be a long old haul but we will get there.

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1 hour ago, Sawdusty Surfer said:

Obviously no idea if they'd do it, but I'd like to see 2021 moved to late August. Everyone that I've spoken to that are involved to a greater or lesser extent are saying this. Don't want to sound like a doom monger but it is what it is. x

Don’t think it’s doom mongering, just the reality of things right now unfortunately. I do wonder though that if it’s moved to late August what would have to happen in those two months to make the festival feasible. Live Nation have said they plan to have full stadium tours/etc go ahead in 2021. Obviously all speculation and hopefully things have markedly improved by the start of 2021 to give glasto a fighting chance of going ahead. 

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2 hours ago, dotdash79 said:

Expect by January to have a clearer picture of what things are going to be like for 2021. If events can't go ahead next year expect a lot of festivals to fold, also expect most venues to close as well.

The early season could be most at risk as they might have to be making a call on whether to go ahead when it isn't entirely clear that they can. 

I've no idea on the timelines and how far out they start booking sites and negotiating contracts. 

Could they have a reserve date for Glastonbury? Maybe they could negotiate another headline lineup for a reserve date and if it doesn't happen book them for 2022? 

Although thinking about the legal nightmare that would be makes me think a backup date just wouldn't work.

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I think its far too complicated for Glastonbury to move unless they make their minds up this year to do it for definite. 

They would have  to start booking a line up from scratch and America/ROW will want all the same acts late summer.

The stages/equipment/coaches will be being used at other events plus crew etc.

Then overcome the council/locals, its too big a beast to move imo.

Plus having to start work on the next festival in 2022 with 3 months less planning time.

 

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16 hours ago, nikkic said:

It really is like that, as you've alluded to earlier in the thread.....

Are you really saying that because covid caught you on the hop as it did with everyone else your brain must be a place of only bad decisions...? :rolleyes: 

I said nothing about "bad" businesses. i didn't allude to anything like that at all.

I simply said fewer festivals would (most likely) make those remaining more financially viable via less competition.

I also gave a clear example of how someone might have made a business decision which in normal circumstances wouldn't have been a problem. 

 

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You simply can't operate on a knife-edge year after year in normal times, as many festivals have done. Eventually something will happen to cause the business to fold. 

Just as logically, a profitable position isn't viable. There is not infinite growth to support forever-profits.

A knife edge is viable. It might not be ideal from the position of greed, that's all.

What you say about bad businesses is true, but that doesn't make all businesses that fail a bad business. One day we'll probably be able to predict the day of a person's death and life insurance and pensions businesses will fail, but it won't be because those businesses have been run badly. ;) 

 

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The pandemic has simply sped up that process for a lot of bad businesses. 

for the bad businesses, yes. But also for some good businesses.

 

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The ones who will survive, the good businesses, will be the those who either.....

the ones who survive will be the ones with the finances to survive.

That only requires access to the necessary finances, which is nothing about good business decisions.

 

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A. Have cash reserves to see them through

Or 

B. Have built up enough of a reputation and/or good will from their punters that they can get some sort of investment to keep them going. Whether that's private investment, tickets rolled over or crowdfunding. 
 

"B" is dependant on the financial position of punters and not good business decisions.

Edited by Neil

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We, the punters, have a real dilemma here. I've invested £200 in Download and £400 in Rock Werchter. At the mo, I'm rolling over my tickets, for two reasons - I'll go next year and I understand the cash-flow issue.

If we all applied for refunds (either directly or through Section 75), the festivals would be totally knackered. Glastonbury would survive as a festival, but others would fail and a lot of infrastructure will go out of business. Folding and re-starting when things are better is a real option for these companies/individuals rather than carrying such a debt.

With a question mark over 2021, at what point do we get our money back while we still can?

There's a bit of me, since I'm currently one of the lucky sods who works from home and business is good (clients in medical and telecom), so I'd be ok with my ticket cash going to the people who would have got it anyway this summer. I don't get entertained, but hell, that's nothing compared with the crap going on.

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7 minutes ago, hfuhruhurr said:

We, the punters, have a real dilemma here. I've invested £200 in Download and £400 in Rock Werchter. At the mo, I'm rolling over my tickets, for two reasons - I'll go next year and I understand the cash-flow issue.

If we all applied for refunds (either directly or through Section 75), the festivals would be totally knackered. Glastonbury would survive as a festival, but others would fail and a lot of infrastructure will go out of business. Folding and re-starting when things are better is a real option for these companies/individuals rather than carrying such a debt.

With a question mark over 2021, at what point do we get our money back while we still can?

There's a bit of me, since I'm currently one of the lucky sods who works from home and business is good (clients in medical and telecom), so I'd be ok with my ticket cash going to the people who would have got it anyway this summer. I don't get entertained, but hell, that's nothing compared with the crap going on.

I think the festivals themselves have given deadlines for when you can get a refund?

I'm pretty much buying tickets on credit cards or paypal now, so I have someone else who will refund me in case they go bankrupt

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27 minutes ago, zahidf said:

I'm pretty much buying tickets on credit cards or paypal now, so I have someone else who will refund me in case they go bankrupt

This makes sense - we keep the money in the festival pot and if the worst happens we go Section 75.

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6 hours ago, Neil said:

Are you really saying that because covid caught you on the hop as it did with everyone else your brain must be a place of only bad decisions...? :rolleyes: 

I said nothing about "bad" businesses. i didn't allude to anything like that at all.

I simply said fewer festivals would (most likely) make those remaining more financially viable via less competition.

I also gave a clear example of how someone might have made a business decision which in normal circumstances wouldn't have been a problem. 

You said that many festivals were on a knife edge in normal times. If a festival is in this position year after year I'd call that a bad business personally. 
 

6 hours ago, Neil said:

Just as logically, a profitable position isn't viable. There is not infinite growth to support forever-profits.

Are you actually saying that a business that continues to make profit isn't viable?!
 

6 hours ago, Neil said:

the ones who survive will be the ones with the finances to survive.

That only requires access to the necessary finances, which is nothing about good business decisions.

Exactly my point, I'm glad you agree. 

Cash is oxygen to a business, so those who have accumulated profits and can withstand this, will have a good business model in place wouldn't you think? Or do they stumble on profits and financial security? 

Or if the business isn't yet financially profitable they will at least have a model that looks good to investors if they need a cash injection.  

Either way they have the cash they need to survive. 
 

6 hours ago, Neil said:

"B" is dependant on the financial position of punters and not good business decisions.

There is always cash available from punters, even in shit situations like this. 

The small businesses still doing well in my local community have a good standing because of good service, having a great product and/or having put their customers and community first. 

People are going out of their way to support them. 

This hasn't come about by luck, but years of building a good business model. 

The same will happen with festivals, those with a good model, something unique and/or a loyal following will survive. The others will die. 

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You know, I quite like the idea of just once going to a Glastonbury with a bit more darkness. It will be really odd to have different rhythms to the day.

Edited by stuartbert two hats

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6 hours ago, stuartbert two hats said:

You know, I quite like the idea of just once going to a Glastonbury with a bit more darkness. It will be really odd to have different rhythms to the day.

Advantages: headliner sub in darkness as well, more fireworks opportunities

Sunrise at 7/8 might mean actually going to bed in the dark

Downsides: going to bed in the dark makes it harder to find the tent

You have to really commit to seeing the sunrise.

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Once they start letting punters in stadiums for sports, we'll have a better idea of how likely festivals are next year.

One way ahead (for Glasto at least) could be having fewer punters but keeping the festival's actual footprint as big as possible. Obviously this means lots less cash to play with so maybe more of a return to the old days in terms of line-up, fewer late night zones etc. Campfires and pop up sound systems again. I'd not grumble. I could certainly see huge international acts taking another year out from touring if they can afford to, making the pool of possibles even shallower anyway.  Coldplay, Elbow and Fatboy Slim for 2022? I'd still go.

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1 hour ago, scaryclaireyfairy said:

Once they start letting punters in stadiums for sports, we'll have a better idea of how likely festivals are next year.

One way ahead (for Glasto at least) could be having fewer punters but keeping the festival's actual footprint as big as possible. Obviously this means lots less cash to play with so maybe more of a return to the old days in terms of line-up, fewer late night zones etc. Campfires and pop up sound systems again. I'd not grumble. I could certainly see huge international acts taking another year out from touring if they can afford to, making the pool of possibles even shallower anyway.  Coldplay, Elbow and Fatboy Slim for 2022? I'd still go.

Well the government have told football clubs to expect these measures to be in place for football for quite the long term (6-12 months).  
 

Personally don’t think lots of festivals will survive this summer let alone another missed one next.  Life has to go back to normal at some point surely

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1 hour ago, sisco said:

Personally don’t think lots of festivals will survive this summer let alone another missed one next.  Life has to go back to normal at some point surely

I think one of the main drivers of this is how long the furlough scheme stays in place. Essentially if you have postponed to 2021 and your staff are furloughed what are your current daily costs? Perhaps a bit of office rent and anything youre paying for social media or ads which will have been largely pulled. It won’t be that much put it that way.

Site builds and loads of the actual event work is contractors. No work no pay i am assuming. Artists will likely have been paid whatever upfront money they are due. The rest is payable when they play.

Furlough is keeping the businesses going i would say and would do for a good while if it stays. Most festivals will have a bit of cash reserve plus access to finance through whoever their investors are. Most will be fine for now i reckon. Obviously its far from ideal but the promise of revenue next year should be enough to keep them going. If theres no festivals in 2021 then thats different but we’re a long way from knowing if thats the case or not, and how long furlough for events businesses can go on for.

positive spin: no festivals in 2020, people will be desperate for festivals by next summer and many should sell out in 2021 if they run as normal. Some of those on here have effectively paid upfront for next years fests and can probably afford to go to 1 or 2 more than they might normally on that basis.

Edited by Memory Man

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11 minutes ago, Memory Man said:

I think one of the main drivers of this is how long the furlough scheme stays in place. Essentially if you have postponed to 2021 and your staff are furloughed what are your current daily costs? Perhaps a bit of office rent and anything youre paying for social media or ads which will have been largely pulled. It won’t be that much put it that way.

Site builds and loads of the actual event work is contractors. No work no pay i am assuming. Artists will likely have been paid whatever upfront money they are due. The rest is payable when they play.

Furlough is keeping the businesses going i would say and would do for a good while if it stays. Most festivals will have a bit of cash reserve plus access to finance through whoever their investors are. Most will be fine for now i reckon. Obviously its far from ideal but the promise of revenue next year should be enough to keep them going. If theres no festivals in 2021 then thats different but we’re a long way from knowing if thats the case or not, and how long furlough for events businesses can go on for.

positive spin: no festivals in 2020, people will be desperate for festivals by next summer and many should sell out in 2021 if they run as normal. Some of those on here have effectively paid upfront for next years fests and can probably afford to go to 1 or 2 more than they might normally on that basis.

I do hope you’re right.  Already have Glastonbury, Victorious, Libertines in Kent (if they reschedule) and The Killers.  I’d certainly be open to more after this year. 

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Just now, sisco said:

I do hope you’re right.  Already have Glastonbury, Victorious, Libertines in Kent (if they reschedule) and The Killers.  I’d certainly be open to more after this year. 

Exactly. You’ve rolled over your ticket money, its still there for the organisers (held in escrow by ticket agents) on the assumption it will still happen. If 2021 events go as normal i think things will be fine.

of course, that’s a very big if at this point

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I personally don’t agree completely with the good businesses will thrive and bad businesses will fold being mentioned in this thread. To an extend I get it but when you’ve got a massive corporate like festival republic running the big festivals, who will have a lot of investment and cash management they aren’t going to go under. I get they could be classed as a good business but as a punter their festivals could be a lot better. We need more festivals like 2000 trees and Truck pre takeover, much better value for money but the big players regardless of festival enjoyment will always stay unfortunately.  

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18 hours ago, nikkic said:

You said that many festivals were on a knife edge in normal times. If a festival is in this position year after year I'd call that a bad business personally. 

it purely depends what the owner wants to achieve with that business.

A knife edge can quite happily pay the bills without a struggle in all reasonably-expected circumstances.

And taking on a loan to get thru alters the business equilibrium. A business can be viable at "current-price & costs", but not at "new-price because of new-costs of a loan".

 

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Are you actually saying that a business that continues to make profit isn't viable?!

I'm making the point that business failure doesn't *only* happen to bad businesses, or survival to good businesses.

There's bad businesses, and then there's bad circumstances that hit a good business.

 

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Exactly my point, I'm glad you agree. 

No, I absolutely disagree,. Access to the money to survive a crisis is fuck all to do with whether that business is a good business or not.

A good business should in theory have better access to the finances to survive, but real life doesn't actually work like that which anyone who's run a business can tell you.

 

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Cash is oxygen to a business, so those who have accumulated profits and can withstand this, will have a good business model in place wouldn't you think? Or do they stumble on profits and financial security? 

being rich is not about being good. :rolleyes: 

It can be about that. But it's not that by default.

 

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Or if the business isn't yet financially profitable they will at least have a model that looks good to investors if they need a cash injection.  

so what you're saying it's not about whether the business is good, it's about how good you are at convincing someone who doesn't know the business that the business is good.

I absolutely agree.

:P 

The sad fact is that's about 'charm' or bullshit or knowing the right people and not about how good a business is.

(funnily enough, there's a story in the papers today about a failing German business that conned Warren Buffet out of $0.75Bn with bullshit ;) )

And it's also about knowing people with the cash to invest. And it's also about wanting to sell part of the business. Or about whether the business owner wishes to take on the risk of a loan.

And not about whether the business is good.

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Either way they have the cash they need to survive. 

it doesn't fall out of the sky by default of being a good business. :rolleyes: 

 

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There is always cash available from punters, even in shit situations like this. 

The small businesses still doing well in my local community have a good standing because of good service, having a great product and/or having put their customers and community first. 

People are going out of their way to support them. 

This hasn't come about by luck, but years of building a good business model. 

The same will happen with festivals, those with a good model, something unique and/or a loyal following will survive. The others will die. 

You don't have to be a good business to have something unique about your business. You don't have to be a good business to have a loyal following. 

And neither of those things guarantees funds at the level needed to survive.

If you've ever run a business you will probably have realised the biggest factor in the ability to start and keep trading is luck - because no business controls its customers or its trading circumstances.

Edited by Neil

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22 minutes ago, Memory Man said:

(held in escrow by ticket agents)

only sometimes. ;) 

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23 minutes ago, foolee said:

when you’ve got a massive corporate like festival republic running the big festivals, who will have a lot of investment and cash management they aren’t going to go under. 

from what's in the public domain it looks like Live Nation has been at strong risk in the last 2 months of going under.

It's just had a massive investment from the Saudis to stay afloat, which I thought a great alignment of cultures. :P 

Edited by Neil

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If you build it they will come.. 

I believe this to be true 

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PS: have just seen that a festival has been bailed out by an arts grant.

It's great that it's been bailed out, but that's not about whether it's a good business, it's a purely arbitrary decision.

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On 5/14/2020 at 9:24 PM, Sawdusty Surfer said:

 

Great thanks for posting this, really interesting discussion,  very much enjoyed.

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3 hours ago, Neil said:

If you've ever run a business you will probably have realised the biggest factor in the ability to start and keep trading is luck - because no business controls its customers or its trading circumstances.

The fact you think luck is the biggest factor in a business shows just how far apart we are with our ideologies 😂

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