Indoors is the new outdoors as festival spirit goes under cover

Elisa Bray
Monday 13 September 2010 00:00

As Bestival and End of the Road rounded off the summer festival season over the weekend, the music industry has being counting the profits from its most successful summer ever. So successful, in fact, that the show will go on for a little while yet.

While the value of recorded music continues to stagnate, the live sector grew by 9.4 per cent last year, and summer festivals provided the bulk of that boom. So as the nights draw in, gig promoters have hit upon with wheeze of marketing indoor concerts as festivals, trying to take advantage of the public's appetite for them during the autumn and winter months too.

Metropolitan festivals showcasing bands at lots of different venues, such as Manchester's In the City, The Great Escape in Brighton and London's Camden Crawl, have been around for some time. But more of them are taking up residencies at just one venue. Campfire Trails, billed as "a new indoor indie rock and Americana festival," takes place over three nights this week solely at The Troxy in London.

Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest is back next weekend after a five-year break at the O2, promising "a village of the damned, with fairground rides, stalls and tattooists" along with music. Another addition is Constellations, featuring Broken Social Scene and Four Tet at Leeds University Union.

Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn, who runs Reading, Leeds, Latitude and the Electric Picnic in Ireland, said: "The festival market has been the most buoyant within the music sector."

Given the music industry's well-documented problems with falling sales due to illegal downloading, this could be portrayed as an act of desperation. James Drury, managing director of the UK Festival Awards, underlined that festivals are such "high-risk ventures". But he said: "The fact that people are using festivals as a way of attracting people to an event demonstrates how popular they have become."

Festivals provide financial efficiency for bands, and fans. The acts share access to equipment, dressing-rooms and catering, rather than needing to fund their own as on tour. Many now plan their calendar around the festivals across the globe all year round, merely tagging tour dates around these appearances.

And fans get to see several of their favourite groups with just one ticket. They spent £275m on festivals in 2009, 20 per cent more than the previous year, and that figure is only going to be higher this year. Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Latitude, Bestival and Green Man all sold out quicker than ever. Download sold more than 100,000 tickets, places at T in the Park went in 90 minutes, and even small independent events such as 2000 Trees had none left by May.

In 2007, the year before the recession, 670 festivals were staged. With fewer events selling faster than ever and ticket prices still rising, it will not be long before it surpasses that.

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No tent required

*Campfire Trails

Showcase for the best of Americana, at The Troxy, London, 15-17 September

*In The City

Manchester's creative Northern Quarter hosts 200 up-and-coming bands across 20 venues, 13-15 October


Swn (Welsh for 'sound') takes over Cardiff city centre and celebrates new music coming out of Wales, 21-23 October

*Constellations Festival

Themed music, art and film, Leeds University, 13-14 November

*ATP Bowlie 2

Butlins in Minehead is turned into an indie-lovers' paradise, 10-12 December

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