What’s Behind the Surging Popularity of Music Festivals?

Photo by Anax44, Flickr

In its growth, Governors Ball is benefitting from and contributing to the festival explosion of the past decade, a trend that a new Eventbrite study (on the “Top 2014 Music Festival Trends and Insights”) claims has resulted in one in every five millennials attending at least one festival per year.

Though big, multi-day productions have thrived longer in Europe and South America — think Glastonbury, Primavera, and Rock in Rio —  than in the United States, festivals’ worldwide presence continues to expand, with locally based boutique shows like the Bon Iver-booked Eaux Claires and the biannual, two-stage Boston Calling sprouting up yearly. As the names and figures involved suggest, live music itself has become a vitally lucrative industry in the past decade: Corporate sponsorship of music (including festivals) ballooned to over $1.3 billion last year alone, and with live show attendance numbers now in the hundreds of thousands annually — Austin City Limits draws the biggest crowd with just under 200,000 patrons in 2013 — the festival boom hasn’t even come close to peaking.

Liz Nistico of the brat-pop duo HOLYCHILD, who’ll make their Governors Ball debut this June, believes festivals have exponentially sprouted in popularity over the past five years because they force people with (at least tangentially) shared interests to interact…Like Nistico suggests, when all the world’s music — sans a few big name holdouts — is available via Spotify just a few clicks away, its easy to forego interacting with other people when it comes to soundtracking our day-to-day lives.  Governors Ball is one in a trend of large-scale events with diverse lineups — which reflect the varied, blurred tastes and genres that’ve emerged in the wake of the web-driven democratization of music — pulling people in, making them more likely to dive into a mud pit in the middle of the day. 

Brennan Carley writing for Spin about the trio behind the Governors Ball Music Festival, and their plans to bring a country festival to New York City.

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