Summer Music Festivals Taking Over Music Industry

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This week, tens of thousands of people around the country received little boxes from Indio, California, containing a window sticker, a PR pamphlet and a fuchsia wrist band that will gain them access to the 2012 Coachella Valley Music + Arts Festival.

These premium packages only went out the select few individuals who were actually able to purchase tickets online in the 15-minute window before both weekends of the festival sold out.

Even with the addition of a second weekend of revelry, this year's Coachella sold out faster than every previous festival. It's a trend that started in 2006 and is unlikely to abate any time soon.


For more info check out our gallery of the Top 10 Summer Music Festivals.


The summer music festival scene has exploded since Coachella first bowed. Only a few years ago, weekend-long camping festivals were viewed as a kind of niche activity reserved for hippies and derelicts. These events performed well enough for their promoters, but they were nowhere near the big ticket events that they are today.

Music fans now have over a dozen domestic music festivals to choose from held in locations as distant as Seattle, Washington and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The biggest three (Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza) are all expected to see elevated attendance this year, with the next tier (Sasquatch, Camp Bisco, Pitchfork) following closely behind. These days, booking a three-day musical romp in some rural locale is about the closest thing to surefire moneymaker that the record industry has.

It wasn't always this way.

In 2007, there were still Coachella tickets available on the first day of the festival.

A far cry from this year's sky-high scalper prices and rapid sell-out. And keep in mind that there were more than twice as many 3-day passes available this year than there have been in years past.

These summer behemoths are becoming such influential market drivers that many bands - both indie and mainstream - are planning touring dates and album releases to accommodate the festival schedule. If you're a mid-list indie band planning to drop a new cut, making a stop at Indio in April can be the difference between feast and famine.

Some industry bigwigs are still skeptical of the scene, though more and more are beginning to come around. The digital revolution forced an increased focus on live performance to recoup all the lost revenue from the dip in album sales. If I'm a record exec at a failing label, I see opportunity in the summer festival boom.

For more info check out our gallery of the Top 10 Summer Music Festivals.