Summer music festival frenzy has begun, but is the bubble about to burst?
'They're incredibly stressful, risky, difficult ventures,' says organizer
Tents and stages go up around Field Trip music festival organizer Jeffrey Remedios. The co-founder of indie label Arts & Crafts seems cautiously optimistic about his three-year-old event, even though it is competing against a long list of summer festivals for music fans' summer concert dollars.
Like many other music festivals taking place across the country, Toronto's Field Trip is trying to stake a claim in the market by striving to be different.
"We'll see how buoyant the market really is," he told CBC News of this weekend's event. "A festival succeeds when it becomes something greater than the sum of its parts."
I think the bubble only bursts when people don't have an original idea, or aren't building a community.- WayHome organizer Shannon McNiven
A family-friendly festival including healthy food and crafts, Field Trip balances acts for children such as Sharon & Bram with headliners Alabama Shakes and Juno-award-winner Arkells. Grown up fans introduce the music festival experience to their kids while saving money on babysitters.
Which festival will win fans' money?
But music fans may decide to save their money for the first-ever Toronto Bestival, which takes places on the Toronto Islands the following weekend, and features some better known acts including Florence + the Machine and Nas.
Some upcoming summer festivals
Levitation Vancouver 2015
June 5-7, 2015
Field Trip 2015
June 6-7, 2015
Bestival Canada 2015
June 12-13, 2015
North by Northeast (NXNE) 2015
June 12-21, 2015
Amnesia Rockfest 2015
June 18-21, 2015
Sled Island 2015
June 24-28, 2015
Tall Tree Music Festival 2015
Port Renfrew, BC
June 26-28, 2015
Calgary Stampede 2015
July 3-12, 2015
Quebec City Summer Festival 2015
Quebec City, QC
July 9-19, 2015
Ottawa Bluesfest 2015
July 9-19, 2015
Pemberton, British Columbia
July 16-19, 2015
Vancouver Folk Festival 2015
July 17-19, 2015
Interstellar Rodeo Edmonton 2015
July 24-26, 2015
WayHome Music Festival 2015
July 24-26, 2015
July 31- August 2, 2015
Bestival is an offshoot of the popular festival on the Isle of Wight in England that has been held annually since 2004.
Yet another new entry into the crowded market this year is the WayHome music festival, which takes place July 24 to July 26 at Burl's Creek, 90 minutes north of Toronto. It offers headliners Neil Young, Kendrick Lamar and Sam Smith, over a three-day stretch.
Organizer Shannon McNevan, who also runs the annual country music festival Boots & Hearts at the same venue in August, has partnered with one of the organizers behind Bonnaroo, the renowned Tennessee music festival.
"Our goal right from the beginning is to be an international destination festival—like a Glastonbury or Coachella or Lollapallooza or Bonnaroo," said McNevan.
He noted that 80 per cent of first-year festivals fail. "I do think there's a bubble," he said. "But I think the bubble only bursts when people don't have an original idea, or aren't building a community."
McNevan believes WayHome will find a niche in the festival marketplace by offering the communal experience of camping, made possible by the massive grounds of the festival venue. The $169-$269 admission price includes the charge for camping.
Nick Blasko runs several festivals on Vancouver Island, including Rock the Shores, which takes over a beach front location north of Victoria on July 18 and July 19 with headliners The Black Keys and Jane's Addiction. He also runs Rifflandia, taking place this year from September 17 to September 20 in Victoria, featuring Chromeo and Kieza.
"They're incredibly stressful, risky, difficult ventures and it's a game of wits and patience to see it through," he said.
As competition increases, and without enough fans and dollars to go around, things will only get tougher.
"We could very well have the same number of events happening, but I think the average attendance will decrease. I think that it is almost inevitable given the choice people have right now."