Here's Everything You Need to Know About Music Festivals

In the era of "Festival Fever," festivals are happening every time and everywhere. That's why we've prepared this storyteller's guide to the Music Festival Universe for you, let's get ready together for 2024!

Last Update: January 25th, 2024

If you're into live music, you've probably attended a music festival, watched one online or on TV, or at least planned to go to one. That's because music festivals are essentially compilations of a genre's (or different genres) musicians and bands. This means that you not only get to see your favorite band but also discover new bands and connect with people who share the same musical interests, providing an experience that makes you feel like you belong there. Music festivals are so popular these days that it's almost impossible to find someone who has never heard of one.

The Beginning of Everything

As we all know, music festivals have a rich history, and some of the first bands to perform at these events played major roles in shaping the so-called “festival culture”. Let's delve deeper into the origins and significance of these festivals:

Woodstock Festival (1969): Woodstock is one of the most iconic music festivals of all time. Held in upstate New York, it featured legendary performances by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, and Santana. These performances helped define the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

Monterey Pop Festival (1967): Held in Monterey, USA, is often considered a precursor to Woodstock. It featured groundbreaking performances by acts like The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, and Ravi Shankar. It was one of the first festivals to showcase a diverse range of genres, including rock, folk, soul, and even some Indian classical music.

Glastonbury Festival (1970): The inaugural Glastonbury Festival in the United Kingdom featured performances by Marc Bolan, Keith Christmas, and Al Stewart. Although it started as a small gathering, Glastonbury has since grown into one of the world's most renowned music festivals.

Lollapalooza (1991): Created by Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, brought alternative rock acts to the forefront of the festival scene. The first Lollapalooza featured bands like Nine Inch Nails, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

With these festivals being the pioneers of the music festival scene, we surely need to thank these legends for leading the way (Salute!). As they opened the door for newcomers, new festivals have arisen over the years and are now in the mainstream spotlight of the festival scene.

As we approach the end of 2023, let’s check out some of the most popular festivals that we've had this year!

Top 5 Most Popular Festivals in 2023

1. Tomorrowland, the EDM festival held in Belgium remains the foremost choice for the most popular festival, primarily due to its amazing line-up, number of attendees, and social media engagement.

2. Coachella, the hip-hop and pop festival is undoubtedly one of the most hyped festivals on social media. It's even mentioned in lyrics by rappers (Like "Say Less" by G-Eazy). Pretty crazy, right? It secures the second spot for this masterpiece!

3. Summerfest, held since 1968, is one of the most well-known family-friendly rock & pop festivals. Definitely a must-go.

4. Wacken is the type of music festival for heavy metal and all its subgenres lovers, from brutal death metal with bands like Cannibal Corpse to Blind Guardian's melodic metal.

5. Reading Festival had over 105k attendees in 2023 and featured one of the best line-ups of all times, and best of all, a legendary "Mr. Brightside" performance by The Killers that became viral on YouTube.

Festivals Are For Everyone

In the last couple of years, music festivals have become so popular that people don't attend them just to see their favorite artists and bands live; it has become something much bigger than that. For example, some people attend music festivals because they enjoy the after-parties held in clubs inside the festival, just like Lollapalooza. Others go specifically for activities such as craft beer tastings, as is the case with Pouzza Fest in Canada. For those with a more “laid-back vibe,” there are festivals like Weyfest in the UK, where attendees can enjoy good wine with friends.

The thing is, music festivals are not only about music anymore; music has become the reason to gather, but not the sole purpose. (Quite philosophical, huh?) So, if you're the type of person who goes to festivals just for the activities, here are some quite eccentric music festivals that feature cool activities:

Wine Machine – Hunter Valley: The festival is an annual music and wine festival that takes place in various locations across Australia, including the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. The festival is designed to combine the best of Australian wine with live music performances from some of the country's top artists. So, if you’re a wine lover, this festival offers all kinds of wines and some good music. (Read more)

Yoga Vidya Musik Festival: This festival is a music and art festival that combines Yogatherapie with folk music, held annually in Horn-Bad Meinberg, Germany. Calling all Yoga lovers now! (Read more)

Black Deer Festival: This festival is a multi-genre music and cultural festival that celebrates Americana and country music in Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom. Black Deer offers craft beer and whiskey tastings. (Read more)

Pendleton Whiskey Music Festival: This festival is an annual event that combines great music with the rich heritage of Pendleton Whiskey. Attendees can indulge in tastings, learn about the distilling process, and explore the various whiskey offerings available. It's a perfect opportunity for whiskey enthusiasts to discover and appreciate the craftsmanship behind this iconic brand. (Read more)

With all these distinct activities, music festivals ended up creating a wide range of types of people that goes to music festival. In our opinion, these are the 6 main types of music festival attendees: (you may not know, but you definitely are one of these three)

The Generic Attendee: So, this is the generic attendee, a normal human being just like most of us. They go to a music festival because there are like 2 or 3 bands that they enjoy and end up getting to know a few more, just like our ancestors used to do in the Old Era of Music Festivals.

The "True-To-The-Band" Attendee: This is the type of attendee that goes to music festivals only for a specific band, and trust me, they do it every year (not that it's a bad thing). They go there, see their favorite band, try to grab a pick from the guitarist or a drumstick, and guess what? Head straight back home. A bit curious, no?

The "Hardcore See-Every-Act-Possible" Attendee: As the name suggests, this is the type of attendee who does not want to waste any time; they are watching 2 to 3 concerts AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. You look in one direction, and there they are. But then, the exact same moment you look in the other direction, and they are also in another crowd headbanging to a whole different concert. How is this even possible? Go figure.

The "Activities-Lover" Attendee: As we've mentioned before, this is the "activities lover." Sometimes they are there not only for the music but for the activities. This includes joining a food-eating tournament, a rap battle contest, or even target shooting. (Trust me, some music festivals have this)

The "I Forgot What I’m Doing Here" Attendee: This is the type of attendee who definitely is not there for the music. They are either drinking beer, talking with friends, sitting on the ground, buying food—doing anything except watching musicians perform live. I mean, what are they even doing in here?

The "I Know the Band" Attendee: Well, last but not least, this is the supreme VIP attendee whose only goal is to watch the back of their favorite musicians while they perform. In other words, they want backstage access.

Now that you've read to this point, you definitely can relate to any of these types. Send us a message on our Instagram page and let us know which one you are!

 

Behind The Scenes

Let’s now try to understand a little bit more about music festivals. Music festivals have a history that dates back centuries. One of the earliest known festivals featuring musical performances was the Pythian Games at Delphi, which took place in ancient Greece. These early festivals laid the foundation for celebrating music and its power to unite people. A bit old, right?

The modern concept of music festivals as we know them today began to emerge in the late 1960s. Rock bands and promoters started organizing their festivals, providing a platform for musicians to showcase their music and for fans to immerse themselves in a unique experience.

Over time, music festivals evolved and diversified, catering to a wide range of genres and themes. They became an integral part of popular culture, attracting music enthusiasts from all walks of life. Today, music festivals continue to thrive, offering live performances, artistic expression, and community engagement, like we’ve said before, it is not only about the music anymore, it’s a whole cultural thing.

The pop genre particularly, has experienced significant growth in the music festival scene in recent years. Festivals such as Coachella, and Governors Ball have become popular destinations for pop music lovers. These festivals have developed their own unique culture and have become more extravagant over time, attracting a large audience, and of course, more money.

The rise of pop music festivals can be attributed to various factors. Firstly, music festivals, in general, have transformed from DIY (do-it-yourself) communal events into major moneymakers in a competitive industry. The global music festival market has witnessed substantial growth, with a projected expansion at a compound annual growth rate of 23.17% from 2021 to 2023. In terms of genre trends, while pop music may have experienced a slight decline from 2022 to 2023, it continues to have a solid presence at festivals like Coachella, with 14% of performers representing the genre. Additionally, festivals that feature a mix of genres spread over multiple stages tend to attract the largest audiences.

The growth of pop genre music festivals can also be seen in the urbanization of these events. More than half of the big music festivals in the US now take place in urban centers, reflecting the increasing popularity and demand for diverse music experiences.

The growth of pop genre music festivals results from their ability to cater to the evolving tastes and preferences of music lovers, the commercial success of the festival industry, and the unique experiences they offer.

With that being said, pop, hip-hop, trap, and indie festivals tend to be the most trending festivals every year. However, that's not always the case; heavy metal and rock festivals like Wacken or Louder Than Life bring in thousands of attendees every year. Let’s check out what the most trending festivals were this year, based on social media engagement.

Top Festivals by Genre:

Reggae Festival: Austin Reggae Festival in Austin, USA.

Pop Festival: Lollapalooza Berlin Edition, Chicago Edition, Paris Edition and Stockholm Edition

Heavy Metal Festival: Wacken Festival, in (WackenSchleswig-Holstein, Germany

Techno Festival: I Love Techno Europe in Montpellier, France

Folk FestivalBristol Folk Festival in Bristol, United Kingdom

 

All About That Dollar Sign

With this amount of music festivals and people crazy to go outside and experience it, the music festival industry became, well, a $business$. That means that in most cases there’s a lot of money involved, meaning investors, big deals, contracts, record labels, sponsors, or in short words, a lot of money coming in (and going out). Check out some cool info we gathered for you.

Highest-Grossing Music Festivals Globally:

Coachella is estimated to have contributed over $1.5 billion to the local economy, with a significant portion of this amount stemming from ticket sales, merchandise, and sponsorships.

The 2019 Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, claimed the top spot by generating over $29M. According to the Guinness World Records website, this revenue was amassed through the sale of 205,500 tickets, which started at $155.

In 2016, Desert Trip made headlines by raking in $160 million even before the event took place, thanks to an estimated 75,000 attendees. This exclusive experience came with a hefty price tag, as a general admission weekend pass cost $399, while exclusive tickets for prime spots in the pit were sold for a whopping $1,599.

 

Unstoppable Growth

Music festivals have evolved into a significant revenue-generating industry, attracting millions of attendees and corporate sponsorships. Here are some notable music festivals known for their substantial revenues and sponsors:

Fuji Rock Festival: Held in Niigata, Japan, it is one of the largest music festivals in Asia and attracts a substantial number of attendees. It has become a vital source of revenue for the organizers. (Read more)

Pitchfork Music Festival: Organized by the Condé Nast music brand Pitchfork, it has experienced a significant revenue increase of 112% compared to the previous year. This growth can be attributed to custom campaigns and marketing efforts.

So now that you know almost everything about music festivals, we must recommend to you some of the best music festivals that you can enjoy!

Concerty's Recommendation of Music Festivals for 2024:

Tomorrowland, as we've mentioned before, is one of the most-awaited festivals every year, it's a combination of some of the biggest names in the industry, such as David GuettaArmin van BuurenMartin Garrix, and Tiësto with a gathering of people from all corners of the world, dancing to the beats of top DJs and experiencing breathtaking production, visuals, and art. If you haven't had the chance to go in 2023, well, don't miss your shot for 2024.

SXSW (South by Southwest), held in Austin, USA, it's a growing festival. The 2023 edition featured artists like The Zombies, The Lemon Twigs, Sunflower Bean, and many others! If you're into rock and indie rock, this one is for you!

Bonnaroo Festival is also an emerging music festival, but still already big enough to attract music lovers from all over the world. The festival is held in Manchester, Tennessee, and features rock, hip-hop, EDM, and folk bands and artists. Trust us, it will be worth your time and money.

Roskilde Festival in the city of Roskilde, Denmark. is considered to be one of the largest music festivals in Europe, and it's a festival that relies heavily on volunteers. Each year, around 30,000 volunteers contribute their time and energy to help make the festival happen. Big names were on the 2023 lineup as well, such as Burna Boy, Tove Lo, Denzel Curry, and more.

 

Remember to have fun!

And last but not least, you can check out the music festivals area on our website. You can filter by upcoming festivals in your country and more!

Whether you're already a music festival lover or about to enter this world, remember to keep it safe. Avoid getting into fights, don't get too drunk, refrain from bothering others, and most importantly, read our tips for concert attendees here to make your festival/concert experience the best moment ever.

Remember, just have a good time!

Cheers, guys!

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