Music Industry Can't Rely on Glasto Effect to Offset Plunge in CD Sales ; ANALYSIS
Spanier, Gideon, The Evening Standard (London, England)
EVEN before the Glastonbury Festival opened today, the doom- mongers had a field day. The celebrated music festival, which in recent years had sold out its 137,000 tickets in hours, still had thousands of places unsold at [pounds]155 a throw.
A multitude of reasons emerged for the slow sales. First the row over the decision to invite rapper Jay-Z as the headline act, rather than a traditional rock or guitar act. Then there has been speculation about the effect of the economic downturn and memories of the rain-sodden mudbaths of recent years.
Most significantly, many believe there is evidence the booming market for music festivals has reached saturation point. By some counts, about 500 are taking place around Britain and Ireland, mainly over the summer. Festivals have also sprung up across Europe, attracting big crowds including some Brits, who like the idea of paying less to see the same big-name acts.
Glastonbury spokesman Crispin Aubrey says: "There is more choice.
But some of the other festivals have not done as well and may not survive." Signs of trouble are mounting. One smaller festival, Blissfields in Somerset, due to be held in July, was canned this month because of poor ticket sales.
"The economy is so obviously hurting most people and even those still going to festivals may well have cut down on the number they are attending," said Blissfields in a statement. "This year in particular, there may just be too much choice and those who love festivals have nine major events on the same weekend as us in the South of England alone." Another big festival in Scandinavia shut down abruptly, with a roster of acts already announced. "If even a relatively small festival collapses, it could be looking at losses of [pounds]1 million," says one manager. He forecasts more festivals will close.
For a bigger festival, the implications are more serious. Glastonbury would not break even unless it sold all but the last 5000 tickets.
The stakes are not just high for festival organisers. Musicians and record labels have been pinning their fortunes on festivals and concerts as their saviour. Sales of recorded music CDs and downloads have slumped to their lowest level since 1985. According to the industry body IFPI, 1.86 billion albums were sold last year. At their zenith in 1996, more than 3.4 billion were sold. Record- company revenues fell 8% globally last year, nose-diving 13% in Britain.
In contrast, live music has been enjoying a renaissance. There is some evidence that the MySpace and Facebook generation, who download so much music on their computers and iPods, get a greater thrill from a concert than buying a CD. There has also been the emergence of more wealthier, older punters, willing to relive their youth.
Witness the reformation of …
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Publication information: Article title: Music Industry Can't Rely on Glasto Effect to Offset Plunge in CD Sales ; ANALYSIS. Contributors: Spanier, Gideon - Author. Newspaper title: The Evening Standard (London, England). Publication date: June 27, 2008. Page number: 32. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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