According to Electric Picnic boss Melvin Benn, the cost of hosting a concert or music festival has tripled in the last three years.
Describing the impact of the cost of living crisis on the live events industry as “scary”, the festival director said the show must go on despite the increased costs.
“The cost of everything has gone up,” he said. “Everything. Labor costs have gone up. What a stage company is charging me to build a stage is now significantly more because labor costs have gone up and transportation costs have gone up because fuel costs have gone up and truck driver wages have gone up. “
Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic – which runs Electric Picnic together with festivals Latitude, Reading and Leeds in England and Lollapalooza Berlin in Germany – said from his London office: “For example, a stage company has to charge me more because of the fuel costs gone up. You cannot bear the cost of fuel at 2019 prices. And that applies to every single part of the Electric Picnic.
“The Electric Picnic is on a very nice patch of grass in Stradbally Hall. There is nothing. Nothing.
“Everything has to be delivered. And in order for it to be delivered, there must be labor and transport costs as well as the assembly and dismantling of the stages.
“The cost of on-site power, generators, sound, lighting and emergency lighting tripled between 2019 and 2022. Not 10 or 20 percent. That’s three times what it was in 2019. It’s really scary. And when we as organizers say buy a ticket at a tier one price, believe me it’s worth it.
“Because there is nothing stable in the world at the moment. We are very confident that events will take place, but, oh my God, the fuel is not going to go down.”
Not all costs were passed on to the concertgoers.
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“Across the UK my costs have gone up between 28 and 30 per cent this year and I’ve increased my ticket prices by around 11 per cent,” said Benn. “I have not passed on these costs at this time because I do not believe the public can afford to pay the costs. I haven’t decided on a ticket price for 2023 yet.”
Of the six main headliners at Electric Picnic, there is one woman, Megan Thee Stallion, alongside five male acts – Dermot Kennedy, Snow Patrol, Tame Impala, Picture This and Arctic Monkeys. There are many female performers on the programme, including Lyra, CMAT, Joy Crookes, Wolf Alice, Sorcha Richardson, Tolu Makay and Denise Chaila, but the visuals still suggest a gender imbalance at the festival.
“Until there is full 50’s representation, there will never be enough women,” Benn said.
“We have to put together a bill that people want to hear and the artists that are available to us and we’re working really hard to get a good distribution. I think the picnic bill is pretty decent.
“Do we want to get better? Of course we want to do better. But when you consider that of the top 1,000 songs written each year, only about 12 to 16 percent are by women. If you look at the Billboard charts year over year, less than 20 percent tend to be women. As organizers, we try to present as much as possible what people hear on our stages.”
Running September 2-4, this will be the first electric picnic since the Covid-19 pandemic halted live shows in 2020.
“I was absolutely devastated when Electric Picnic 2020 was canceled due to Covid,” said Benn. “My life has just been empty, absolutely empty, because I’ve spent my life creating, producing and hosting festivals – 2020 was the first year since 1969 that I haven’t been to a festival.
“The music industry, like the film industry, is made up of people creating, doing and starting things themselves. And when there’s nothing you can do to influence what you love to do most – which is to bring together a large number of people in a beautiful musical setting like Electric Picnic – you’re really tearing your hair out.”
Benn thinks it’s “extraordinary” that three years have passed since the last picnic.
“Even more extraordinary is that we went on sale immediately after the 2019 picnic and most ticket holders attending in 2022 bought their tickets three years ago. Some of them may have become parents during this time. Three years is a long time,” he said.
When asked who he’s most looking forward to seeing at the festival, he said: “It would be impossible not to say The Arctic Monkeys. They are a band from Yorkshire. I’m a boy from Yorkshire.
“Of course, Fontaine’s DC on Friday night will be a big one. You had an incredible summer. The bill is always about being relevant.
“Honestly, I’m as excited about the new theater tent as I am about almost anything else. We have Ballet Ireland with us Faucet with the songs of the Rolling Stones as the soundtrack and the fantastic Belfast Ensemble abominationa DUP opera.
“It’s a must, but that’s what the picnic does – it breaks new ground every year. For this reason it is Ireland’s premier and most culturally important music festival. It is also the best craic.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/festivals/electric-picnic-is-ready-to-spark-again-after-covid-pulled-the-plug-41894745.html Electric Picnic ready to radio again after Covid pulled the plug