You’ve probably been hearing and reading a lot about Woodstock, the iconic 1969 music festival. Americans have been celebrating the event’s 50th anniversary. In August 1969, Woodstock staged 32 acts, attracted 400,000 attendees (without social media), and featured intermittent downpours.
Rain-soaked performers, including The Who, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, braved “...the danger of electrical shocks and general backstage anarchy,” wrote Rolling Stone Magazine.
Woodstock made Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll, along with the evolution of Chess Records, the death of John Lennon, and the invention of the iPod.
Since 1969, music festivals have become a staple of summertime entertainment. Planet Money reported about 100 events will have been scheduled in the United States this year. Most will have production standards far superior to those at Woodstock.
They also cost a lot more.
If festival ticket prices increased with inflation, they would cost about five times what they did in the late 70s, reported The Economist. Instead, tickets cost about 50 times more.
Attendees are getting a lot more for their money. A festival organizer in Britain said arranging a music festival is akin to setting up a small town with scaffolding and a crew to build it. Festival goers need water, food, drinks, Wi-Fi, security, and bathrooms.
Oh! And music.
The economics of the music industry have changed dramatically. At one time, performers made most of their money selling records and would tour to promote newly released songs. Today, artists make most of their money going on tour and new releases are a way to attract fans to a show.
Today, succeeding in the music industry is all about making the fan experience worth the price.