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July 16, 2008

Did Coachella lose money?

princeI heard second-hand (but from a good source) that this year's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival lost some serious money.

According to this source, festival promoters shilled out a few million dollars to book headliner Prince (pictured), and it didn't pay off in ticket sales.

Also, organizers decided to scrap this year's Virgin Festival in Vancouver a few weeks ago for "various reasons."

And attendance at this year's Bonnaroo festival was down from last year.

Here I am writing about how festivals are once again popping up around the country. Maybe that's not the case after all.

Or this bad news could just be a fluke.


(AP photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:56 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Local music


My guess would be supply and demand. it used to be just a couple major festivals: coachella, bonnaroo, ACL. Now in the past 3 years they have added: Lollapalooza (05'), Monolith (07'), All Points West (08'), and outside lands (08').

Having been to coachella this year it was still packed...maybe not as much as last year, but maybe only a 10% decrease i would guess?

Not surprising ... everything is getting more expensive, and people's wages aren't keeping up. After you buy some groceries and put gas in your car, who has $120 leftover to spend on a concert?

Yes, it did lose money, as did last year's Virgin Fest here in Maryland.

i really think it's a combination of all of the factors mentioned. i do feel that the economy is a valid issue to raise, trite as it might be. ryan hit it right on the nose with his supply and demand comment. if you combine that with dave's issue of things costing more, it's really not all that surprising.

as for my two cents, i feel it also has a lot to do with the bands chosen to play the events. admittedly I'm not a Prince fan, and by no means am i insisting he's a bad artist. however, i can only name about 2 songs he does, which doesn't translate to paying headliner prices. this isn't a blanket statement, but did you all go pick up his latest release when it came out?

i don't have exact figures to back this up, but i feel warped tour is probably doing well financially. they've got all their eggs in one basket, implying that the genres are reasonably close to each other. there's one big punk/hardcore show in the summer and it's warped tour, and truth be told, tickets are STEAL for how many bands you get. the audiences may not be as big, but it travels and is accessible to the fans it's catering to.

on the other hand, festivals such as coachella, bonnaroo, lollapaloza, while obviously drawing a different audience than warped tour, have for the most part (but not all) of the same genres, i.e. pop/alternative/indie rock. i think the problem arises is that when you have so many bigger events, it makes a strain on the amount of available talent.

this is where it comes back around to not being able to justify going to see Foo Fighters at one venue, while also going to see John Mayer at another. also keep in mind that bonaroo and coachella are in Tennessee and California respectively, so i hope you're a frequent flyer if you're a dedicated My Morning Jacket fan.

I used to go to concerts and festivals all the time. Now I think they are too expensive for what they are. Take the Virgin festival, I would love to see Foo Fighters (again), NIN, STP and a couple of others but they spread it out over 2 days and the value is not there. I don't feel like I am getting a deal.

I miss the days of the HFStival back in the late 90's when it was only 20 bucks for a ticket. Granted, I know it was over 10 years ago, but still. I'd love to go to Virgin Fest, but I'm not willing to pay $100 per day, plus parking. I'd much rather go and see the artists individually- especially in small venues like 9:30 club, Recher and Sonar.

Prince, how much of a draw is he these days to be booking him for a few million Dollars?
On the surface, it sounds like an inflated price for a comparatively deflated privilege.

Better get those Sonar shows in soon.

Oh yeah? Do you know something we don't?

Is anyone on this forum going to talk about the bill introduced this week by Rawlings-Blake? The bill lifts the moratorium on Tavern and Live Entertainment licenses.

It looks as if this bill will be signed into law, and a review board will be established to weigh the pros and cons of each applicant.

Being a nightlife forum, may be something to discuss.

Yeah, Sam, I do, but it's not my place to speak about it.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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