Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A festival needs curation! Bigger is not better!

I just got an mail from a band that has played one of the bigger showcase festivals in Europe. Before playing at that festival it was a mark that this artist was going somewhere. I meet the booker from that festival last year at another festival talking about an act that really goes well all over Europe and with easy should make the lineup. The booker had a problem though that only around 20% was curated the rest was bought up by export offices. So, it was hard to even get a band that should be on there.  And when I got the link of this artist today, I can really see it. This artist has no value right now. It is not interesting in any way for the festivals. And has no real leverage right now. A typical buy-in for an export office.

And I see export offices with a large amount of money just buy in spots at the festivals. I have seen these artists and they not even ready. In the end, it really lowers the value of the festival. Sure, it takes time for the brand of the festival to fade away, but when it really starts to happen it goes fast. Midem is a great example. A must go in the 90:s and was so powerful you couldn’t ignore it. Suddenly because of really bad decisions in curation, the festival became nothing.

Midem tries hard to turn it around and there are some good things happening but the brand is now almost acquainted to be a place where old publishers that still trade photos and cd:s and drink wine. It’s not, I know that (not all of the participants, in some cases accurate though) since I was there last year, but most of the people I meet in the industry has that vision still. The struggle to reverse that trend is hard.

And I see this problem in several of the big showcase festivals. The curation is really bad, almost non-existing. A large buy up from export offices from very small undeveloped countries thinking that they enter a marketplace where they can export. They are buying a spot trying to shine in the festival brand. This affects the showcases brand and several now seem to be heading the same way as the trust of the numbers on Spotify, straight down the drain. I just saw an offer to pay and play on one handled by amateur organizations in Sweden for a big festival in Europe. The lineup will be not even close to good. The value is definitely gone and in the end, the reputation for the festival is fading away. The real industry people are also talking, that playing on these festivals was before a certain way to get booking now it’s just an expensive adventure.

Then I can also see the point of the festival. Here comes someone with not ready artists but pays half the festival expenses. Showcase is really not a goldmine. The money is really needed. So, at the expense of the quality, you have to do it. And I know everybody is doing that. The feeling I get right now is that it’s has gone over proportion. Two of the biggest ones in Europe is now just "pay and play". What's needed is that at least half is curated or even a bit more.

My reaction is to more or less try to avoid the bigger ones and head for the smaller ones. Many times, better curation. The big favor also is that the smaller ones have much better chances to do business. I rather do really good business than just saying that I sipped drinks at the biggest festival. For those who know if you just attend the big ones you are not important enough for the real industry people. When I write this, I’m on my way to MENT, a good festival with the right size.

And the artist that sent the mail. Yes, the fact that they bragged about playing that showcase festival made me suspicious and probably looked on their stuff with critical eyes. And I just make a mark not to see that show and also take out some festival names out of my band's bio pages.Bigger is not better in this case.

No comments:

Post a Comment