I'll post the lineup for the 2014 JazzFest after I finish writing this thread. It will further illustrate the point(s) made (hopefully) in this thread.
I read an article on Flavorwire re: the music festival 'bubble' bursting, and since it resonated with me, it might make sense to some of you as well. It's just an opinion, not a poll or a survey.
The festival "thing" isn't for everyone, but for those that have a thing for festivals, the lineup announcements were always a bit exciting. Even the big, somewhat name-brand festivals (Coachella, Bonnaroo) sparkled, for many years. Then, something seems to have crept into the situation: instead of excitement, color and variety, *and* the entry-way to see "emerging" bands with a somewhat progressive lineup, festivals became bland and vanilla, with nothing to characterize them, and it began to look like a race to see whose lineup had the "biggest" names, rather than ... the best.
Now they say Coachella has the best venue in the US, so those tickets will sell themselves even if Britney Spears headlines. :) That's the same as getting a piece of "vanilla" jewelry at Tiffany's because some people think that the exterior presentation of a little blue "signature" box is more important than what's inside. (note: that does not include me, FWIW. :) )
Festivals might be seen as a good place to be for people who don't get to many, or any concerts. Put down a chunk of money and see *ALL* the musical acts you couldn't even imagine seeing in a year. Still a good deal.
Large festivals, such as Coachella or SXSW, are seen as the "Costco" of music festivals (funny!). A great deal, if you can navigate the thing.
As you know, music festivals started out as the "poor mans" option to see music. Ramshackle, small players, that somewhere along the way, got eaten up and swallowed and CONSOLIDATED. That's the keyword.
This is what happened, even though there are still many regional festivals, many of them no longer exist because the mega-festival took over. The majority of the market is now in the hands of the mega-festival industry handlers. This is no different than the mom and pop stores being eaten up by the chain stores.
If the small festivals had a lifespan, will the big festivals follow suit? Lineups are based less on being progressive, and based more (if not entirely) on commercial considerations / success.
It's no longer music, it's an event. :)
Know what else is weird? The lineups of let's say 15 years ago, when the target was people late teens / twenties -- pretty much are the lineups that cater to the same audience, as those people are now well into their thirties. That's why the lineups are not very progressive, it's a nostalgia trip. Younger audiences? They get to see older acts. :D Coachella had Arcade Fire as a headliner in 2011. They're back again. A revamoped OutKast? And Muse? They've headlined festivals for years. Not exactly cutting edge. Makes you wonder.
The people that should be taking the place of the former festival goers (younger people) "are growing up in a world where festivals are big, commercial crapfests" !! They are not as interested as Gen-Xers and older audiences. Are new audiences going to want to camp in the middle of nowhere and pay $$ for a beer all weekend?
Prediction by author:
I think that if anything, we’ll see a sort of deconsolidation, where specialized small festivals start small and stay small, and a small group of highly financed large festivals will continue to chase a declining market of ever-aging attendees. I might be wrong, of course — who knows, maybe in five years’ time Basilica Soundscape will be held over two weekends in a bespoke arena in Hudson, and attended by 20,000 girls in faux-Native American headdresses. But I doubt it. And honestly, that’s not such a bad thing. If it means that people go back to attending shows at local venues instead of shelling out a couple of hundred dollars to camp in the desert for a weekend, it’s probably to the ultimate benefit of musicians — and lord knows, they need all the help they can get."
Thoughts, anyone? I know some of you aren't festival-goers, but feel free to comment.