The Glastonbury Festival is considering dropping its pre-registration system after competition, poor weather and – in the opinion of some – the decision to book the rapper Jay-Z led to slow ticket sales when lines opened at the weekend. The Somerset festival, which runs from 27 to 29 June, introduced pre-registration last year to combat ticket touts after several years of high demand.
When tickets went on sale on Sunday, just 100,000 of the 140,000 tickets were sold. In previous years, all the tickets were snapped up on the first day. In 2007, 400,000 hopefuls supplied contact information and a passport-style photograph, compared to just 225,000 who pre-registered this year. As a result, from 4pm today, people are being given a second chance to register to buy tickets.
Michael Eavis, the festival organiser, said that in future years he would consider scrapping both pre-registration and photo tickets.
The decision to book Jay-Z to headline the festival on the Saturday night has been blamed for the lower ticket sales, with some festival goers fearing he is too commercial for an event that has traditionally focused on indie music. But Mr Eavis described the rapper, real name Shawn Carter, as "an absolute genius" and attributed the slower demand to a combination of three muddy Glastonbury festivals in a row and the fact that other festivals such as Reading and Leeds put their tickets on sale first this year.
Mr Eavis said: "We're not worried. We still sold 100,000 tickets on Sunday when the country was under a blanket of snow ... [But] I wonder whether there's a need for registration any more. There has been for the last five years, but the need may have expired."
Mr Eavis insisted that Jay-Z would still appear, despite rumours that he might back out. "As far as I'm concerned, the agent rang me yesterday and said it's all on," said Mr Eavis.
NME writer Jamie Fullerton believes the decision to book the rapper has had a negative impact. "If Radiohead were playing Saturday night it would have been sold out by now," he said. "Jay-Z's standing isn't quite as high in the UK as more traditional rock bands."
More music fans are also abandoning the UK altogether to attend festivals across Europe, from Pinkpop in the Netherlands in May to Benicassim in Spain and the Exit festival in Serbia in July.
The full Glastonbury line-up will be unveiled on Friday. Already confirmed to appear are The Verve, Kings of Leon, Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond, as well as the British rapper Dizzee Rascal.