Summer festivals: the business of music
The spring-summer season is the best time of year for the ever more numerous festivals across our country. With astronomic attendance figures and an economic impact of hundreds of millions of euros, they are a tourist attraction for the cities that organise them, and are ever more aware in the area of ecological sustainability and respect for the environment in which they are held.
In the coming months, around 150 music festivals will be held in Spain (more than 800 a year). The coming 2018 season is expected to be “the most important in recent years in terms of attendance, which will exceed 90% in the larger festivals”, assures Iñaki Gaztelumendi, president of Spain Live Music – Spain Musical Tourism Association–, in declarations to Efetur.
The ten largest festivals in Spain alone have an impact on the receiver cities of more than 400 million euros, an impact which includes expenditure in hotels, apartments and the shopping of the more than 1.6 million festivalgoers, according to sector company data.
The appeal is obvious. They offer the chance to enjoy several days of the best live music: top-class bands alongside new talents to be discovered and a mixture of musical styles; ever better complexes with more services (for instance gastronomy) in privileged urban or coastal surroundings. There are options for all tastes (and pockets).
The most multitudinous festivals
Arenal Sound (Burriana, Castellón): 300,000 people attended the last edition.
Rototom Sunsplash (Benicàssim, Castellón). The reggae Festival, this year in its 25th edition, in 2017 brought in 220,000 people.
The classical FIB, also in Benicàssim, last year gathered 177,000 spectators.
Without moving from Valencia Community, the Low Cost, in Benidorm (Alicante), had 80,000 attendees and an impact on the town of 14 million euros.
The relatively new (fifth edition) Medusa Festival in Cullera, broke last year’s record attendance with 165,000 spectators, and was the most lucrative festival in Valencia province at around 22 million euros.
In Barcelona, two festivals that are now landmarks: Primavera Sound, with an attendance of 200,000 people, and Sónar, which this year, in its 25th edition, expects to break its record figure of 123,000 attendees.
Madrid is hard on the trail in organising these events and has already made up for lost ground. Mad Cool brought in 135,000 people in 2017, in its third edition, and, Download, in its debut on the festival stage, exceeded 100,000 spectators.
The north does not fall behind either in its festival offer. Two of the largest take place in this area: Bilbao BBK Live and Sonorama Ribera (Aranda de Duero) broke their own records in 2017, with more than 100,000 attendees each. With 20 years of history, Sonorama was recognised as the Best Large Festival at the last delivery of the Fest. Awards.
In the south, Dreambeach Villaricos (Almería), with 175,000 spectators, completes the list of the largest festivals, along with Viña Rock in Villarobledo (Albacete), which closed its 21st edition (April 2018) with an attendance of more than 200,000 people, according to the organisers. According to the town hall, the event had an economic impact on Villarrobledo and its province of more than 20 million euros.
The business figures
The festivals have an economic impact of millions of euros in the receiver areas and maintain live music in Spain, something of vital importance given that live performances, and not record sales, are now the main source of income for musicians.
According to data of the Musical Promoter Association (APM), in 2017 live music had a turnover of 269.2 million euros, 20.6% up on the previous year. Many of the festivals are achieving record attendances. “The figures show that the festival eco-system has experienced progressive and sustainable growth in recent years, related above all to a changing culture”, says Albert Salmerón, president of APM. However, the proliferation of festivals has led some promoters to consider the phenomenal as a kind of bubble.
The festivals have become a top tourist attraction. The fact that the most important tourist fair in Spain this year presented the section Fitur Festivales is symptomatic of the interest of public administrations, promoters and tourist companies in exploiting the fact that festivals are a factor for tourists in deciding on their trips.
Valencia Tourism Agency has created the Musix Festivals platform, which gathers different aspects (ticket sales, accommodation, etc.) around these events which, as it reports, brought in 128.8 million euros. Similarly, Castellón Provincial Council, with several of the largest events, launched the ‘Castellón tierra de festivales’ [Castellón, land of festivals] campaign with which, according to its figures, it hopes to exceed an economic impact of 100 million euros.
The environmental impact and the damage and disturbance the festivals can cause on the surroundings where they are held are the large concerns such events arouse. Today they are more conscious of aspects like energy efficiency and reduction of the waste they produce, with measures that favour responsible consumption, as well as opting for reusable glasses.
There are several examples, Primavera Sound fosters the use of public transport with vouchers and discounts and the creation of bicycle parking with surveillance, and most printed materials are made on recycled paper. Along with this, Rototom promotes initiatives such as the introduction of LED in several of its areas as well as solar panels, and the water from the showers is reused for the toilet cisterns; all of this has brought it the Greener Festival Award several times as one of the most sustainable festivals in Europe.
Similarly, in 2010 it was recognised by the UNESCO as the Emblematic Event of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence. The fact it is held in areas away from urban centres and the implementation of security checks minimise the disturbance that these events can cause.
By Sara Puerto