OK. So this can be a bit controversial. But let me explain.

There has been a lot of talk in Australia about festival prices. Big Day Out did not sell out this year, and Splendour in the Grass did not sell out in a day, for the first time in years. Both have other factors (BDO was two days, Splendour had computer issues) to consider. Nothing is that black and white.

But what does annoy me, what really gets to me, is people telling me “that’s just how much things cost”. People accept prices because they don’t shop around.

So I’ve been talking to people recently about festival costs. There’s a lot of bad feeling out there. There also seems to be strong feelings about the cost. And lots of excuses – “it would cost you more to fly to Glastonbury”. “Bands have to fly here”.

So in the face of opinion, we have fact. And hard data.

So how much does a festival cost?

Well. Here you go.

These prices are based on the following factors:

– all are camping music festivals lasting 3 or 4 days
– one ticket for all days of the festival
– camping for all days
– one car
– no early bird discounts
– a small handful I could not find the booking fees, and took a 10 euro estimate.
– all currency exchanges done by my little dashboard app. Blame that.

What isn’t included

– who’s playing
– festival size
– how many stages
– how to get there
– quality of the facilities
– other aesthetic factors.

The reasoning is this – how much does a music fan pay for the festival experience? People go to festivals for many reasons, not just music. And not everyone wants to see Kanye West (something that has come up a lot lately). So for everyone who says Kanye costs extra, there are those who don’t care to pay for Kanye. So acts could not be taken into account.

(I personally quite like Kanye. And I would argue that most people go for the festival itself, rather than picking too much over the line-up)

And I’m not taking the view of how much it costs for Australians to go to a festival. I’m comparing Australians to music fans around the world. I would say our CDs are a bit more expensive than most, but of course it’s more expensive to ship it from the UK.

Of course, Australia has it’s own unique issues. Distance. The strength of our currency. The size of the country. But those are all industry issues.

What about the Music Fan?

But it’s comparing Music Fan Person in Aus, and one in, say, France. And how much it costs to be part of the festival experience. Who has it better?

What do we learn?

The average price of a festival is $284.

Australia and the UK dominate the top.

Some festivals have started to offer a price with no hidden charges. No additional camping fees, no hidden booking charges etc. I like this a lot – I hope it catches on. Booking fees, although quite standard, are a pain in the ass.

It also seems quite difficult to buy tickets. Some you get taken to external websites. You have to tick various boxes to suit your situation – which camp site. Parking. Camping.

Some sold out festivals were quite hard to find the price. But some still list prices for a very good reason – to prevent scalping. If you know the list price is £170 pounds, it makes it easier to spot some third party adding to your price.

And finally – it is glaring how much more expensive Splendour in the Grass and Falls are. A common thought amongst Australian music fans is – I’ll save up and do festivals properly in Europe. The other side is also a problem. Those European festivals draws tourism. Backpackers from abroad are asked to pay more for festivals than anywhere else.

I know there’s a hundred reasons for it to be this way. Sure.

But are we acceoting that blindly, or is there a way to bring the cost down? Is bringing the cost down even on anyone’s mind? Most people seem unhappy with the price, but many still pay it.

Maybe the Australian dollar will help. Maybe we’ll finally get hybrid planes. Or if a couple more festivals happen there will be more competition.

Right now, for whatever reason, we pay a lot for festivals.

(Any errors or inaccuracies, please let me know and I will be happy to update)