The Insider explains: just why ARE festival line-ups so boring?

This week, Ears To The House returned to a theme we first mentioned back at the start of the year. And that’s the fact that festivals all seem to be run these days as if they were McDonald’s franchises. A lot of them have basically the same lineups – great news for the DJs on those lineups who have a secure line of well-paid work, bad news for anyone who doesn’t.

We could spend much of the day publishing examples of this, but we ran two this week – Secret Project Festival in Portugal on Tuesday and Tomorrowland yesterday. In yesterday’s post, we also promised a dispatch from our industry insider. Are we right to think festival lineups are getting very samey or does he think we’re talking out of our backsides?

He said “On this subject, I think Ears To The House has got it about right. Festivals have become big business over the past 15, 20 years or so – but it might surprise the average punter to know a lot of them don’t make a lot of money. The outlay in putting on a festival is eye-watering. The DJ fees can come into seven, sometimes even eight figure sums by themselves. And that’s before anyone else involved is paid anything.”

“So you guys have cottoned onto the right thing when you say it’s all about money. It’s more about money than ever. Two years of festivals being out of action means money is even tighter than before. Which means a lot of them have had to go big in order to survive. And when I say big, I mean really f***ing big. Trust me when I say that nearly all the big name DJs want even more money now than they did before the pandemic.”

“I asked one top DJ recently why he’d raised his fees, and he proudly told me he was, and I quote, ‘a greedy c*** who can get away with it’. And he’s actually right about this, that’s the worst thing. Festivals either have to go totally niche now or totally mainstream. There seems to be no middle ground for almost anyone, and I think it’s going to be that way for a while.”

And is there anywhere where this doesn’t apply so much? Our insider simply said “Defected, maybe. They’re really going big on festivals this year. When [Simon] Dunmore books you, the money isn’t going to break the bank, but you know you’ll get massive support on socials, and he’s likely to book you again. It’s the Dunmore model, and it might just work for him. Everyone else is just varying degrees of f***ed”.

The insider has spoken…

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