Are music festivals worth it?


Fact Box

  • The April 2024 Coachella Festival included headliners No Doubt, Lana Del Rey, Doja Cat, Ice Spice, Bleachers, and many other favorite artists. Billie Eilish, Childish Gambino, and 21 Savage were just some of the surprise guest performances
  • According to a 2023 Statista study, 34% of American respondents have attended a music festival more than once in their lives, while 20% have only gone once. 
  • SXSW, Big Ears, Ultra Music Festival, and Coachella are some of the biggest and most well-known music festivals in the States, with crowds boasting as many as 100,000 to 280,000 people. 
  • In 2017, the gross merchandise value of ticket sales to music events was estimated at $17 billion, with sales rising to $33 billion by 2023. Projections for the next four years increase to almost $40 billion.

Mark (No)

Music festivals aren't what they were when they became popular under the Boomers. Exorbitant ticket prices and amenities have steadily increased since 2017, for instance, when the average festival goer could expect to spend around $700. Eight years and mounting inflation later, the price tag of attending a music festival and additional expenses can be well over $1,000.

With the existence of social media sites, you can look no further than the screen on your phone or TV to view these expensive music festivals remotely. YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok allow festival attendees, and even the festival company itself, to post videos and live streams of the experience, allowing anyone to participate in the festival as if they were there. Some attendees use their platforms to vent their frustration over the experience, shedding light on the ridiculously long lines at the restrooms and food trucks. Crowds that rival summer at a Disney park mean much time will be spent waiting in line, possibly missing your favorite acts. Likewise, music festivals could hardly be considered a 'safe space.' Nearly every music festival has documented overdoses, injuries, assaults, and deaths.  

Additionally, the cluster of humanity on relatively modest plots of land often results in the gatherings wreaking absolute havoc on the environment as well. The aftermath of music festivals often resembles a massive waste site. Finally, music festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach have become a corporate cash grab. Instead of being a place to connect with artists over their art, festivals have become crowded with already commercial and big-name performers who don't have enough time on stage to engage with their audience. Attending music festivals essentially endorses some of the things these performers claim to be against: consumerism, capitalism, and cultish behavior. 

Emily (Yes)

Attending music festivals in person is such a unique experience that can create memories that last a lifetime. Live music is a transformative, memorable experience that uplifts spirits and evokes joy and happiness. Research has also found that listening to live music can stimulate the brain more than listening to a recording. Festivals also provide a fun atmosphere where people can meet with old friends, meet new ones, and experience their favorite artists onstage. 

Festivals are also an excellent way for people to discover different artists that they might have never considered listening to had they not seen them perform live. Listening to other music genres allows people to embark on a transformative experience, opening their lives to learning about different cultures and traditions. Some festivals even have group activities, like line dancing at Stagecoach, bringing people with similar interests together.

Additionally, dressing up for festivals adds to the fun. Picking outfits can be a great way to kick off the fun even before the event starts. Some like to plan group outfits or even DIY fun festival outfits ahead of time. There is no limit to what people wear to express themselves; all trends and fashion choices are welcome at most events.

Furthermore, festivals are melting pots that bring together people from many different backgrounds who are there to have a great time. Even famous artists can be spotted and met as they wander through the crowds as spectators. While it might be easier to stay home and watch streams of the festival, there is nothing like standing in the crowd and singing along with your favorite song as the sun sets.

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