The Growing Popularity of Music Festivals

The 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair – also known as the Woodstock Festival or simply Woodstock – is widely regarded as a turning point in popular music history. Woodstock popularized the live music festival concept for all genres of music, changing the way music is experienced, produced and released. Woodstock’s legacy continues today. Huge music fests such as Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, SXSW, CMA Music Festival, Austin City Limits, Summerfest and Burning Man are staples in today’s music festival industry.

The music festival industry’s continued shift toward live performances has significantly driven revenue and profitability for the concert and event promotion industry over the past five years. Live musical performance is a major revenue earner for both musicians and event promoters. According to market research firm IBISWorld, the concert and event promotion industry generates $25 billion in annual revenue and is projected to have 4.7 percent growth in 2015.

Festivals dominate the music industry. Trade publication Pollstar lists in its 2015 Global Festival Calendar more than 1,500 events in 70 countries, with major festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza selling out within hours of announcing their lineups. Pollstar’s editors say that the single biggest change to the music festival industry has been the growth of large multi-day events, which megastars headline and which are using more of the latest live sound technology than ever before. According to the National Association of Music Merchants, these multi-stage events are not only driving fashion trends, they are also powering a boom in the sale of live sound gear.

Who goes to these shows and how do they connect with the music festival industry? Nielsen’s Audience Insights Report on Music Festivals reports that 32 million people attend at least one music festival in the United States each year, and nearly half (46 percent) are age 18-34. The festival audience is evenly split among men (49 percent) and women (51 percent), and festivals are more popular among Hispanics and African-Americans than they are with the general population. Music fest fans rely on technology and social media to find concerts and buy tickets and digital music. Ninety-eight percent are more likely to discover new music on Spotify than the average consumer, according to Nielsen’s Music 360 study. They also tend to buy more digital music than the typical U.S. consumer and spend more on music than the general population, an average of $207 on live events, digital music and streaming.

How you can score in this business

Economic opportunities such as music festivals, enhanced technologies and products, and new production and distribution methods continue to ramp up the redefined music business. These rapid changes also are creating career options for professionals – everything from artists to managers, to agents and attorneys, to promoters and publishers – who want to orchestrate future change in the business. If you love music and have a talent for business and management, a music management degree can set the stage for a rewarding and fun career in this growing field.

As a student pursuing a master’s degree in music business you will learn the traditional business skills of accounting, finance, managerial economics, project management, research and quantitative analysis and apply that knowledge directly to the music industry. Your coursework will focus on music business leadership and ethics, music business structures and strategy, music promotion and marketing, music copyright, music publishing, record companies, entertainment contracts and licensing, entertainment law, and artist and concert management. Music management degree programs often feature industry-veteran teachers and guests who bring first-hand knowledge of the music and entertainment industries.

Whether you choose to advance your career as an artist or work behind the scenes as a business manager, festival promoter or record company executive, a music business education can provide you with the essential skills and strategies to help you reach your goals.

Learn more about the Frost School of Music’s online master’s degree programs.


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